MOOSEHEART, August 17 -- A party’s planned at Mooseheart on Tuesday, Aug. 21, the day after school starts at Mooseheart this year -- and everyone’s going to be there - even Curious George.
The entire student body will be present at the event, which starts at 6 p.m. at the "KaBOOM! Playground" in the heart of the campus. The school faculty will all be present and so will be most of the campus staff, along with Moose members from Mooseheart, IL Lodge 2655 and Mooseheart, IL Chapter 3001, the sponsors of this year’s Back to School Bash. New students on the 99-year-old campus will be introduced and there will be plenty of food, including roast pork, chicken and plenty of other goodies. It will be, in short, a festive way to get ready for the school year.
But the Bash received an added dimension this week when it was confirmed that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt -- the national educational publisher with an office and plant in nearby Geneva, IL -- would be adding to the event as well. Mooseheart’s children always enter school on the first week of school with full backpacks with their school supplies, just like students throughout the nation.
This year, those backpacks are going to be packed with supplies courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, headquartered in Boston. Beyond 100 full backpacks, the publishing giant is also providing the backpacks themselves, as well as a number of schoolbooks for Mooseheart’s children to use this year. In addition to all this, Curious George -- a brought-to-life version of the children's books character created by H.A. Rey -- will be on-hand to add to the fun.
Mooseheart Supreintendent of Education Gary Urwiler said the Back to School Bash had been planned just for the Mooseheart Lodge and Chapter of the Moose organization to show its support of the students.
Then he heard from Lindsay Adamzak, a Digital Solutions Account Manager at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, who "contacted me and said she was one of the general managers for Illinois and was just reaching out,” Urwiler said. “The wanted to find a way to provide assistance and see what we might need that they could provide.”
Urwiler said all schools are in need of school supplies every year. Having the already-planned Back to School Bash has allowed for a large-scale way for Mooseheart to say “thank you.”
“There are a couple of things that this type of donation does,” Urwiler said. “What a welcoming gift to give to our students, for them to know that all their supplies are taken care of and they have a quality backpack to carry it all in. Secondly, as a 501c(3) charitable entity and a private school, when someone says words like “school supplies” and “donate,” you get excited. It’s not just a good thing financially, but it gives us a chance to reach out and make relationships with area businesses and give them a chance to learn more about us.”
This school year starts the path that concludes with Mooseheart's Centennial observances in 2013. Urwiler said that even after a century of existence, the need to spread the word as to Mooseheart’s mission continues.
“We’re on the same road as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - they are just up Route 31 in Geneva,” Urwiler said. “There are still misconceptions by people who drive by our campus every day and have an opinion about what we do. This gives a company of this magnitude a chance to come and partner with us for a day and we can show them how thankful we are.”
The Back to School Bash exists as a way to energize Mooseheart’s students during the first week of classes -- the first day of school this year is Monday, Aug. 20. Urwiler is currently Governor of the Mooseheart Lodge of the Loyal Order of Moose. New faculty members will be introduced, as will new students. Those students will take a "citizenship pledge" as they begin life on the campus that will be their home as well as the site of their school.
“Those two entities, the Lodge and Chapter on-campus are comprised of a large number of people who work here on-campus and also at the school,” Urwiler said. “It’s another way for those members to show their appreciation, above and beyond their job duties. There could be 400 people here. There could be 500. I can’t think of a better way to get people together and to get them excited about the start of the year and the centennial celebration.”
Since its founding, Mooseheart has operated a complete, accredited kindergarten-through-high-school academic program, plus art, music, vocational training and interscholastic sports. It is an extremely nurturing and student-tailored program, with an average student-teacher ratio of 12-1.
Mooseheart students who complete their studies with a 3.0 GPA or better (4.0=A) are eligible for up to five years of annually renewable scholarship funding, covering tuition, room and board in an amount comparable to that required for an in-state student at an Illinois public university.
Mooseheart is currently home to roughly 220 students, ranging in age from preschoolers to high school seniors. Applications for admission to Mooseheart are considered from any family whose children are, for whatever reason, lacking a stable home environment. Mooseheart boasts its own U.S. Post Office and a fully functioning branch of Fifth Third Bank.
In addition to Mooseheart, Moose International also supports Moosehaven, a 70-acre retirement community near Jacksonville, FL founded in 1922; and conducts more than $70 million worth of community service programs annually.