Indian River High School alumni association fundraiser tabbed a huge success

Nancy Hickman, president of the Indian River High School Alumni Association, holds a framed original watercolor by Art LaMay donated by IRHS alumnus Robert Daisey. The artwork drew a high bid of $1,000. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

FRANKFORD – Additional scholarships, more alumni meet-up opportunities and continued support for Indian River High School and its teachers and students.

That is the “what’s next” bucket list of the Indian River High School Alumni Association, which held its largest annual fundraiser Saturday night.

Aside from a couple no-shows and empty seats, it was virtually a full house April 13 at the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company’s banquet hall for the 7th Annual Beef & Brew.

More than 180 persons — including some from IRHS’s first graduating class in 1969 following consolidation — attended the event, which featured a home-cooked buffet feast, live and silent auctions and dancing with music by the Glass Onion Band.

“We were so happy how it all worked out. Between the band, food and all of the auction items it all went so great,” said Nancy Hickman, president of the IRHSAA. “Like anything else you do for seven years in a row, you just get better and figure it out. You kind of fine-tune it. I think this was our best yet.”

Proceeds will go to IRHSAA’s scholarship programs, as well as support for students and student organizations, teachers and other projects with ties to IRHS.

From left, former Indian River High School principal Bennett Murray and current IRHS principal Michael Williams pick the first winner of door prizes handed out at the Indian River High School Alumni Association’s Beef & Brew fundraiser. Waiting to award the prize is Laura Walter, IRHSAA member and part of the Beef & Brew organizing team. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

“We’re excited,” said IRHS alumnus Bennett Murray, former IRHS principal who was one of the core facilitators in forming the alumni association. “The donations that we’ve had, in food and beverage, and the donations from our community of gifts that we’ve been able to auction is incredible. And every time I see that I just envision another scholarship going to another Indian River High School student. It makes you feel so good.”

The exact amount raised should be finalized this week.

The alumni association revitalized the IRHS Hall of Fame and spearheaded fundraising efforts for the digital informational message board at the front high school entrance as well as signage at the back entrance.

Since its inception, IRHSAA has given out more than $40,000 in scholarship awards, which offers support to graduating seniors as well as alumni looking to continue their education.

State Rep. Ron Gray and Indian River High School Alumni Association president Nancy Hickman show this fishing prize during the live auction. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

“The very first year we wanted to do this, our goal was to give three scholarships out: a $100, a $200 and a $300,” said Mr. Murray. “That year our community stepped up so much we were able to give three $1,000 scholarships. We encourage anyone to apply as an Indian River High School graduate.”

“I understand there is a lot of applications this year, which makes me happy,” said Ms. Hickman. “Not only seniors applying, there are older people going back to school who have also applied. That’s what it is all about — continuing education at any age.”

Mr. Murray believes there is growing interest in the alumni association’s efforts.

“Not only do they see things like the sign out front, they see during graduation these young people that are getting these scholarships. We see things such as materials and books being given to our kids in the classroom from the alumni – anything that we can do to give back,” Mr. Murray said. “We just encourage not only our alumni but friends of the Indian River alumni to do what we can, because this is our future. And we need to be prepared. And I am going to tell you, the teachers and that staff there is doing a great job.”

Kathy and Robert Murray snuggle up as they visit the photo booth provided by photographer Sam Ellis. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

This year’s event featured a new twist: photographer Sam Ellis and a photo booth. It offered an opportunity for photographic keepsakes for class members and alumni reunions.

Ms. Hickman added the IRHSAA is “trying to keep it fresh and new, so people keep coming back and supporting us.”

Kathy and Robert Murray visited the photo booth.

“The first graduating class … 1969,” proclaimed Ms. Murray.

Several items in the live auction orchestrated by IRHS alumnus Robert Kauffman, who volunteers his entertaining auctioning expertise, drew $1,000 or more. Those were an original watercolor by Art LaMay and a fishing trip excursion.

Major sponsors of the 2019 Beef & Brew included Banks Wines & Spirits, WSFS Bank, Frankford Volunteer Fire Company, Gray’s Towing Service & Avery Hall Insurance.

Dagsboro Paint and Wallpaper donated a Yeti Cooler, an item that spawned a special raffle.

“We are so fortunate to have all the people that work so hard to put this all together,” said Ms. Hickman. “We can’t thank the community enough for helping us. We really appreciate it.”

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