A small group of generous Molalla alumni just handed over $220,000 to the high school for career and technical education, specifically in the wood and metals departments; and the donors are hoping others in the community will join in the giving.
The donors are Terry and Cheryl Holden and Dale and Julie Burghardt, who all now live in Las Vegas. Terry, Dale and Julie are Molalla alumni. Cheryl graduated from Estacada High. Both couples have supported Molalla students throughout the years in different ways, such as through providing scholarships and even donating funds for the football stadium.
Terry Holden has been interested in supporting career and technical education at the school for a few years now, initiating communication with Principal Brad Berzinski in February 2018.
"Our two manufacturing teachers, Craig Simmons and Mackenzie Behrle, were asked to put together a wish list of equipment that would have a significant impact on their courses," Berzinski said, "and would give students the skills and knowledge that are relevant for today's workforce."
Following an August meeting, the Holdens and Burghardts said they'd decided to grant the entire wish list, according to Berzinski, which amounted to $220,000.
"You always receive more than you give, always, in anything like this." -Cheryl Holden
In addition to that gift, they will also fund the painting of the wood shop, metal shop and two adjoining classrooms as well as the purchase of new classroom furniture, the donors noted in a joint statement.
"There are countless opportunities throughout our economy for vocationally trained students to join the workforce, make a very good living and achieve the American Dream," the Holdens and Burghardts said in the statement.
"We are hopeful that in some small way our donation will assist the vocational students at Molalla High School in receiving more hands-on time with each piece of equipment which will better train them to move forward with a two-year degree, a four-year degree or move directly into the workforce."
Terry Holden expressed concern that the traditional standard of encouraging all students to attend 4-year colleges is not best for everyone. He said they recognize the need for skilled professionals in different trades.
"I would like every kid in a job, doing something they really have a passion for, they really love," Terry Holden said, "and that when they're waking up in the morning, they're going, 'Wow, I get to go to work.'"
Manufacturing and Engineering teacher, Simmons, expressed his utmost thanks to the donors, noting that the gift is unprecedented.
"I've chatted with folks all over this state, and they are blown away," Simmons said. "As I am and the students. Words can't describe it, but it's an honor and I'm humbled that I got to meet you guys."
The Holdens and the Burghardts were more than thrilled to make this investment in Molalla students.
"You always receive more than you give, always, in anything like this," Cheryl Holden said. "That's just the way we feel."
The gift follows another recent donation of manufacturing equipment from Clackamas Community College, further boosting the opportunities in Molalla's CTE department. Berzinski, Simmons and Behrle are researching and visiting other schools to determine how to best use the funds.
"We have been doing plenty of research to make sure we're going to take full advantage of this opportunity and get it right, not only for our current students but for students for the next several years," Berzinski said.
The wood and metals departments may be the envy of the school for now, but the Holdens and Burghardts made it clear they're not going away any time soon, and in fact hope to partner with others in the community.
"Hopefully other people in the community will say, 'Hey, maybe I can do this,'" Terry Holden said.
Specifically, they invite community members, businesses and alumni to identify and donate to other projects that will benefit students and set Molalla High apart.
"And we would partner with those people to help achieve those different goals—whatever it may be—that are supported by the administration and are going to benefit the kids here at Molalla," Dale Burghardt added.
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