- May 13, 2021
HORIZON WEST Those who have been involved with Windermere High from the start know that there’s more to building a new high school than just putting up the walls.
It’s also about creating community and leaving a legacy.
For the parents and volunteers on the board of the Wolverine Legacy Fund, it’s also important to foster support for the school’s curriculum, students and teachers. The Legacy Fund awards monetary grants that help finance everything from student scholarships to enhancement of existing programs and departments.
On Friday, Dec. 7, the first major grant was presented to math teacher Hillary Church on behalf of the Legacy Fund and the grant’s sponsor, Matthew Larabee — general manager at Central Florida Toyota — and his family. The $3,000 grant will support the math department.
“(The Larabees) had asked if part of the proceeds could go toward a program at the school, but more particularly to a teacher who is dedicated and goes above and beyond teaching the students,” said Jane Dunkelberger, president of the Legacy Fund’s executive board. “The board was excited, and we were elated to have our first diamond sponsor of the year, so we took it to the administration, and Mr. Guthrie met with his assistant principals. They all decided unanimously that the teacher who went above and beyond — and the department that needed it the most — would be the math department, and Mrs. Church the recipient.”
Becoming a diamond sponsor requires a minimum $5,000 donation and includes customized promotional opportunities around the school, such as a banner at the sports fields and a special tile array in the business/sponsor garden on campus.
“It’s really a win-win for everybody,” said Irene Pini, the fund’s vice president of sponsorship. “The overall purpose is to build a community school, and we want to involve the businesses and families in it. Anyone who wants to be involved in this capacity with the Legacy Fund, we will find a way. No matter what their passion is we can find a way to support it through the fund and the school.”
Pini also said although the community has a new school with state-of-the-art technology, there still are things within the school that haven’t been built.
“Programs at older, established schools have been around forever,” Pini said. “Things that we’re working to build here; they don’t just happen. We’re starting it, and it’s a lot to start. We still have to build our programs within the school. That takes time, and it doesn’t just happen because you open the doors to a new school.”
In addition to diamond- and sapphire-level business sponsorships, the Legacy Fund also sells personalized bricks that will be added to the school’s Legacy Walk. Dunkelberger said this opportunity allows students and families to leave a legacy behind at their school.
“What we’re going to see is a lot of the students will grow roots here and have families here and come back,” Dunkelberger said. “One day, maybe their future Wolverines will come here. I think it’s a nice, touching legacy to leave behind with the brick. They can come back one day, and their child may be here, and they can show their kids and grandkids.”
So far, the Legacy Fund has gathered about 20 sponsors of all different levels. There still is more work to be done, but the board’s dedication has the school community on its way toward establishing traditions and legacies.
“It builds community, and it helps us by giving back more to the school and continuing to volunteer,” Dunkelberger said. “We know there’s so much support out there, and in all our schools, but in this school particularly, we have a lot of bright, young students that are full of talent — not only academically but athletically.”
“There’s still a lot to be done,” Pini said. “Now is not the time to take a step back. Now is really the time, with this new school, to step forward along with our business partners and volunteers.”