A CHANGING LANDSCAPE
In the fall of 2012, the voters of Wellington, Ohio came together to change the landscape of our village forever by approving a bond levy to build a new middle school. This decision was based on the knowledge that our children deserve a safe, technologically up-to-date facility and that the original McCormick Middle School deserves a respectful end after housing students for more than 150 years.
A new middle school was set for completion in 2015 and even among the cheers there arose many questions. Since the majority of the funding for the school was to come from the state of Ohio, the majority of the decisions and regulations did too. One in particular that the community of Wellington was struggling with was the inclusion of a “cafetorium”; this large room would double as both a cafeteria and an auditorium. Although this set-up has been adopted in many new construction schools in the last few years, it did not seem acceptable to much of our community. But since the state would only fund a “cafetorium” our course seemed set…
AN ANONYMOUS DONOR
Questions about preserving the old auditorium were explored; questions about possibilities of converting buildings in town were asked. Concern about an appropriate auditorium started as nagging voices in our heads, to rumblings among friends to phone calls. But very few possible solutions were even feasible until…
At a meeting in the summer of 2013, it was announced to a small group of concerned citizens that an anonymous source would donate $1.25 million of the $2.5 million needed to change the plan for the new middle school to include a real auditorium. Wow. In that small room, heads were spinning-what a donation! But also, what a task! To raise $1.25 million in just 2 ½ years seemed daunting, if not impossible. Plans were set and optimism ran high at the conclusion of that meeting…and then another surprise. In early September the same group of concerned citizens, now called “Friends of the Wellington Community Auditorium” received more shocking news.
A DEADLINE WAS SET
In order for the state to allow the construction of the auditorium to happen at the same time as the new middle school, ALL of the funds would need to be secured by January 31, 2014 - just 5 short months away. Suddenly a task that had seemed daunting looked impossible. Strategic planning continued, although there were some dark days. Finally an October 15th deadline was set. The decision to go forward with fundraising or scrap the whole idea would be made by then.
On October 15th it was decided that our community was up to the challenge. Lists of possible donors were made and countless meetings scheduled with members of the Wellington community who may be willing to make a difference. A media blitz was started to reach as many people as possible. Generous donors started looking seriously at what they could add to this project. Some donated hundreds of thousands of dollars and some donated $87. Some bought enough seats for their entire family and some school children donated $2 each to be a part of just one.
AND THE REST IS HISTORY
The optimism was contagious, but there was still a gap to fill. This is when the alumni of Wellington High School stepped in. As soon as alumni were made aware of the need for a new auditorium, donations starting pouring in from all over the country. Again, large and small donations were helping to close the gap. As our deadline approached, “the friends” knew we needed more time and thankfully the state granted one more month to solidify donations.
By March 3, 2014, $1.25 million to match the then still anonymous donation was secured! The dream of a new auditorium, constructed at the same time as the new middle school was realized. Later, as the official name of the auditorium was revealed as “The Patricia Lindley Center for the Performing Arts” another layer of warmth and pride became attached to this incredible space. For generations to come our community will be able to enjoy the arts in this building knowing that the generosity of one man inspired the generosity of a whole community, and beyond.