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Brainerd School Board: Seniors fund raising hard work pays off

The Brainerd School Board Tuesday approved the purchase of flooring tiles, which will allow graduation to be held on Don Adamson Field this year. Chairs can't be set up on the field for events because setting chairs on the field turf voids the ar...

Seniors Jenna Degen (left) Nikita Duscher, Maddie Waters, Gaby Haire, Sara Whiteman, Lydia Herath, Kaylin Cherne and Akuliina Autio, hanging out at Don Adamson Field before track practice, toss tiny artificial turf pellets into the air and discuss the success of the senior class’s campaign to raise money to buy tiles that would allow graduation to take place on the artificial turf. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery)
Seniors Jenna Degen (left) Nikita Duscher, Maddie Waters, Gaby Haire, Sara Whiteman, Lydia Herath, Kaylin Cherne and Akuliina Autio, hanging out at Don Adamson Field before track practice, toss tiny artificial turf pellets into the air and discuss the success of the senior class’s campaign to raise money to buy tiles that would allow graduation to take place on the artificial turf. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery)

The Brainerd School Board Tuesday approved the purchase of flooring tiles, which will allow graduation to be held on Don Adamson Field this year.

Chairs can't be set up on the field for events because setting chairs on the field turf voids the artificial turf's warranty.

A floating floor product can be overlaid on the field's surface to protect it and maintain the warranty. However, it would cost $40,000 to purchase enough tiles to cover the footprint of the graduation ceremony.

Senior Gaby Haire told the school board Tuesday a group of "fired-up" seniors has been able to raise $22,256 since Friday towards the purchase of the tiles. Following Haire's presentation, the board unanimously approved purchasing the tiles, funded by donations, with the remainder coming from the district's capital improvements fund.

"This is a lot more than just about ourselves," Haire said.

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The district will now be able to use the tiles to host different events on the field, including graduation, Kinderfriend day, concerts and more community events, Haire said.

When the $3.1 million project was conceived, part of the appeal was the surface would be able to host different events, which hasn't happened yet, Haire said.

"Without this platform, which is really a small fee in the scope of the whole project, it really is only going to be utilized by the sports teams," Haire said.

The group of seniors was able to get larger donations from businesses, Haire said. But the majority of the donations came from individuals who wanted to preserve the tradition of having graduation ceremonies outdoors.

School board member Bob Nystrom commended Haire and the group of seniors on their initiative and determination.

"You guys could have easily gotten mad and complained," Nystrom said. "Instead, you turned it into a positive thing you and your class can look back on and remember."

School Board Chair Sue Kern said she was "extremely inspired" by the seniors' efforts.

"This is how community is supposed to work," Kern said. "This is how we're supposed to be in life, is we all pull together."

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A motion to approve the purchase of the tiles at the May 11 school board meeting failed on a 3-3 vote. Tuesday, school board member Reed Campbell said the seniors' efforts had "changed my vote."

Steve Lund, director of business services for the school district, said the district will still be able to purchase the tiles from the Florida-based company selling them. The product will be shipped and arrive prior to graduation, but the window for installation is tight.

"We're going to maybe call upon (Brainerd High School) Principal (Andrea) Rusk to help us recruit some students to help set it up," Lund said. "The timing will just not allow for a lot of relaxed time in setting it up."

This year's graduation ceremony is planned at 7 p.m. June 5. Superintendent Klint Willert said all the students have to do now is ensure sunny skies during the event.

"Now students, you just have to work on the weather," Willert joked.

SPENSER BICKETT may be reached at 855-5859 or spenser.bickett@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/spenserbickett .

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