Jordan Middle School has launched a campaign to fund renovation of the school’s outdated auditorium and a one-night benefit is planned for this week that officials said should get the job done.
A group of teachers, parents and community members have banded together as the JordanARTS team. Its goal is to raise $100,000 to upgrade the flooring and seating, construct a new sound booth, acquire lighting trusses and updated lighting equipment, build new storage for instruments and production materials and revitalize the lobby foyer with monitors and trophy cases.
The majority of the funds will be raised during the Auditorium Renovation Tribute Show scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday in the school auditorium. The acronym for the show is also part of the organization’s name — JordanARTS.
Hosting the show is Johnny Dowers, a Jordan parent and star of the TV show “The Bridge”.
Jordan’s choir and band will perform, said Principal Stacy Cashman, along with Jordan alumni who are now in the Powerhouse choir at Burroughs High School or former Powerhouse members attending college. Also performing is the alternative funk/rock band Attic Empire. Segments will also include vocal music teacher Christine DeMore and instrumental music teacher John Whitener.
A VIP reception will precede the show at 5:30 and will feature live salsa music, a silent auction, “mocktails” and food catered by California Pizza Kitchen. Reserved tickets for the show and VIP reception are available at jordanARTS.org.
Cashman believes the show will raise close to the $100,000 goal.
“I think we are going to hit our target,” she said.
Fundraising for the auditorium renovation began last year with a Giving Tree that raised $7,000 and a grant of close to $2,500 from the Burbank Arts for All Foundation, said Suzanne Weerts, co-chair of the JordanARTS event.
“We leveraged that money to purchase risers for the stage, rehearsal mirrors at the back of the stage and audio equipment,” she said. “By putting together a large event and rallying the community behind the renovation of our auditorium we will be able to complete the much larger projects rather than doing this one small step at a time.”
One reason for the upgrade is that nothing has been done to auditorium since the school was built in 1948, Cashman said. Another reason is that the school choir and band are always bringing home superior honors and a new theater group — Jordan Starr Players (Starr because it’s David Starr Jordan Middle School) — produced a phenomenal play last year.
“So we want our auditorium to match our programs and be something we can be proud of,” Cashman said.
Funds from the Measure S bond will go to installing air-conditioning in the auditorium this summer, Cashman said, but there is only so much money to go around, so Jordan has to raise funds to upgrade the auditorium’s flooring, stage and other needs.
Jordan has a rich tradition in Burbank and alumni and many other people in the community are tied to the school, so they have rallied to help with this project, Cashman said.
An army of parents have been working on the project in addition community groups and businesses. The Associated Student Body at Jordan will be serving the food at the VIP reception before the show. A Boy Scout troop volunteered to number the seats in the auditorium. California Pizza Kitchen is catering the VIP reception.
“It’s amazing all the people who are involved,” Cashman said.
Jordan alum Mike Cusumano, of Cusumano Real Estate Group, has been giving Cashman advice on the renovation and recommending construction vendors to give her quotes.
And the fundraising campaign has led to the creation of a Jordan Boosters Club that will continue raising funds for school projects after the auditorium renovation is completed, Cashman said.
In addition, Burbank Business Partners has set up donor and volunteer links on Jordan’s website JordanARTS.org — where people can make a donation or become a volunteer. The donor link is the pilot program for the Partners’ Support Burbank Schools project, Weerts said.
“It is encouraging the community to support the schools and they have created a website and a tool to donate online,” she said. “It helps those schools that don’t have a savvy parent or volunteer that can create a website. And it allows relatives living anywhere in the country to donate online to local schools.”
The JordanARTS team also coordinated an on-line auction in December and that project raised more than $800 for the renovation project, Weerts said.
The teachers have also gotten behind raising funds for the auditorium. Many are volunteering their time or offering up teacher experiences like private music lessons, cooking an Italian dinner for eight in one’s home and a personal wake up call for a student by the principal.
“It’s a unique twist on the traditional raffle,” Weerts said.
The Jan. 8 date was chosen for the show in hopes that more Jordan alumni could come back to perform, DeMore said.
“It’s amazing to see the turnout, not to mention the talented singers from Burroughs High School, including The Muses, an all-girl a capella group and Burroughs Vocal Ensemble mixed a cappella group and all of them are under the direction of Brendan Jennings,” she said.
Returning to her roots is Sarah Clack who is the show’s stage manager. She now attends Michigan State University.
“It is a joy to watch her work. She’s so professional. It’s so endearing,” DeMore said. “Her father is helping and John King who heads the tech crew from Burroughs has brought his kids.”
Two Burroughs grads, Grace McCarney and Nevada Brandt, are roommates and attend a performing arts school in New York. They are back to perform in the show.
“It’s so heartwarming to watch all of them,” DeMore said. “A lot of them aren’t in the music business, but maintain their talent and their love [of performing]. They use their musical talents to enrich their lives. They are anxious to give back. We want the arts to enrich your life, not everyone can make it a career but it’s something you can always enjoy.”
To purchase tickets, make a donation or become a volunteer, visit JordanARTS.org.