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Houghton High School alumni donates $10,000

August 8, 2009
By Garrett Neese, DMG Writer

HOUGHTON - The piano Houghton High School purchased three decades ago was still being used last spring. A class picture from the same period might have been unseen for years.

The high school's alumni association is doing its part to solve both problems, recently donating $10,000 to the high school.

The money is being used to buy a new piano for the music and drama programs, as well as a large-screen monitor on which the school will display historical photos, videos and announcements, said Houghton-Portage Township Schools Superintendent Bill Polkinghorne.

Article Photos

Daily Mining Gazette/Garrett Neese
Houghton-Portage Township Schools Superintendent Bill Polkinghorne looks at a succession of Houghton High School class photos on one of the district’s new large-screen monitors in the high school library Friday. HHS alumni recently donated $10,000 for the purchase of a similar screen for district historical photos and announcements, as well as a new piano.

"(Our alumni) have recognized that schools really do need help, and they're lending a hand ... we are appreciative of every nickel they have been able to raise and commit to us," he said Friday.

The 46-inch screen will be placed by the Alumni Theater, Polkinghorne said. It will join a 65-inch monitor already at the high school, which will be placed by the new gym under construction.

Polkinghorne said the screens would include a rotation of vintage class photographs going back to 1922, as well as other historical photographs from the district.

"There's a sense of history that will be maintained that we're afraid will be lost if we don't do something like this," he said. "It's one thing to talk about history and it's another thing to see it."

They're still trying to track down some of the class photos, which had been scattered when the new middle and high school building was constructed in 1989, Polkinghorne said. Some were in storage on the third floor of the Houghton Elementary School. One was found behind a furnace.

They had planned to place the photos on the walls, Polkinghorne said, but soon realized space was too tight.

Instead, the photos were scanned; some were digitally manipulated to hide the effects of water damage.

The district is also replacing the piano, which was purchased more than 30 years ago, used by the music and drama departments.

Polkinghorne said the piano was beyond repair, making a replacement vital.

"Long-term, this piano is going to affect thousands of kids," he said.

The alumni group plans to aid the high school in many more ways.

"We know the taxpayers take care of the general operating needs of Houghton High School," Frank Agin, president of the alumni association and a 1980 Houghton High School graduate, said in a statement. "In these challenging economic times, however, the school simply cannot ask the taxpayers to fund certain non-vital needs and miscellaneous wants. Realizing that, the alumni felt compelled to step up."

Polkinghorne said the district's Web site will also be updated with a list of items the district that alumni or community members can donate, ranging from inexpensive to expensive items.

Polkinghorne drew a distinction between general fund money and the bond money used to fund the new construction under way at the building, including the construction of a new gym and band room and classroom improvements. Last year, voters approved a $12.5 million bond extension to cover the project.

"We're not in trouble with bricks and mortar," he said. "Schools are in trouble with just paying their bills."

Garrett Neese can be reached at



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