When Cynthia Walker & Micah Brownstein, Interim Co-Heads of School, called Olney’s student body to the Collection Room Friday morning, March 30, they announced to a jubilant student body, "Olney Friends School will open for the 2018-19 school year!"
During the same assembly, Olney alum Marie Bundy shared a PowerPoint program outlining the historically important role the school has played in Quaker circles, locally and on the national and international stages during the past 180, soon to be 181 years.
As of our press deadline last Thursday, the school collected $360,022, or $110,000 and 44% over the "Defining the Future" fund goal of a quarter of a million dollars announced nine weeks ago.
During an in-person interview that afternoon, Walker and Brownstein shared with the Enterprise, the important role students, trustees, alumni and friends played in the successful drive.
"We thank the Board of Trustees for their outstanding leadership," Walker said. "They did a phenomenal job, establishing the communication platform, making phone calls, and helping in any way they could."
The students also did their part. "We were very transparent with the kids from the start," Walker said. "At a special meeting with the students, without exception, they said ‘How can we help?’ "
"They didn’t have money to give, but they lent their talents including writing personal notes to those who donated to the drive. It is indicative of their dedication to the school," the co-head added.
The outpouring of support from alumni and friends is amazing. Statements they received ranged from "Olney saved my life" to "I don’t want to imagine a world without Olney".
In gratification, the school released the following statement: Along with our excitement is a profound sense of humility. Over the past two months, we have received much more than your monetary donations: we have heard about the ways Olney Friends School changed your life, felt your concern and love for this community, and listened to your suggestions on becoming more financially sustainable. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much for supporting Olney Friends School.
With this incredible task over, school leadership focuses next on its annual fund drive, raising another $250,000 by June 30.
At the end of the month, Walker said, "Our regular giving has been consistent. We have collected over 65% of the total with three months remaining. We’re well on our way to reaching that goal as well."
Moving forward, the Board of Trustees and school leadership of the school are working with the professional firm EMD Consulting of St. Louis and Hendersonville, NC, "to help identify and address Olney's biggest sustainability challenges."
This past year alumni and friends were personally engaged in five cities from Washington, DC to Seattle, Washington. Locally, school the co-heads spoke at the Barnesville Area Chamber of Commerce and addressed the Rotary Club.
Walker reported the school plans to expand outreach in the coming year by scheduling meetings in other cities and regions as well.
The next outreach, however, will take place right here in Barnesville when students, parents, alumni and friends gather for the Commencement and Alumni Meeting, May 25-26.
The current student body is a diverse one hailing from 10 states and eight countries – China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Germany, Japan, Rwanda and Vietnam.
Additional information on Olney may be found on the school’s website, www.olneyfriendds.org, Facebook or Instagram.