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The MISD begins rebuilding and renovation campaign
by DJ Kauffman Correspondent · September 7th, 2017

Dreams of field rebuilding and auditorium renovation at the Marion Independent High School were on the minds of those gathered for a Marion Builds Opportunity and Partners capital campaign kick-off breakfast at the Indian Creek Country Club on Thursday, August 31, beginning at 7:30 a.m. Mayor Nicolas AbouAssaly and Marion Chamber of Commerce President Jill Ackerman both showed support to the school district by attending.

Marion Independent School District Board Vice President Jill Hanson was one of several speakers who talked about different aspects of the fundraising campaign during the event. She said the idea for Marion Builds Opportunity came about two years ago after the Board looked at 5 and 10-year efficiency allocation of resource plans to see what items will best serve district students now and in the future. To help them prioritize needs, they reached out to the community for input.

Hanson said the MISD Board of Education later held a retreat, where both school and community priorities were assessed at 1.3 million dollars. With only $800,000 in available funds, she said they placed high priority academic items first, leaving extra-curricular projects for last.

According to Hanson, once the top priorities were chosen for funding, they deemed the unfunded items "important enough for a capital campaign." The MISD is using this campaign to "reach out for its students who stretch beyond the classroom to the stage and athletic fields," she said.

It was stated, the financial goal of the campaign is to collect 500,000 contribution dollars overall. Eighty-five thousand of the $500,000 needed, have already been raised through generous donations from both the Marion Athletic Booster Club and the Marion Independent School Foundation & Alumni Association, they said.

The Booster Club provided an initial $25,000 in seed money for this campaign and gave another $10,000 check for the project during the August 31 breakfast. "Extra-curricular activities are important. ... This is something we can pay forward," Mike Cannoy said.

Also, The Foundation has given $50,000 toward the project's goal. Foundation & Alumni Association Executive Director Erin Steffen said, "These improvements are so important," and extra-curricular avenues allow many students to get involved in so many activities.

Funding for the following auditorium items include a new sound system, new stage curtain/hardware system, addition of a chair lift for stage accessibility, updating entrance doors, and installing new wall curtains. According to MHS Associate Principal Chad Zrudsky, the long-range goal for the district is to build a giant arts center, but a facelift to the auditorium is needed now.

Replacing the baseball press box, upgrading dugouts/backstops/netting, adding sidewalks for accessibility, adding a softball press box and a soccer press box at The Les Hipple Athletic Complex are also included in the campaign.

Les Hipple's daughter, Patty Jo Turner, who is a former math teacher and supporter of the Marion Independent School District, spoke to those gathered about her father's coaching career at the MISD. She said the high school was located where Vernon Middle School now stands when Hipple first began. She explained how, during his early years, there were no facilities for athletics on campus. She said she still remembers a "rickety wooden bridge" leading from the field to a swimming pool.

In his book, "A Coach's Life: Les Hipple and the Marion Indians," Dan Kellam introduces a letter written by Winston Gable. It says of Hipple during his beginning time as coach for the MISD, "When Les arrived at Marion during the summer of 1945, he immediately did four things. First, he went to work to improve the condition of the track and football field. Second, he began to repair and upgrade all equipment. Third, he ordered the best available football and basketball uniforms..."

Later, in 1979, the athletic fields at the current Marion High School were named the Les Hipple Athletic Complex. It was a "really great improvement," Turner said. She also talked about Hipple's vision for the complex and how he felt it had a lot of potential for growth.

Hipple earned many honors during his lifetime. According to, he "is one of the few men to be inducted into both the state's basketball coaches hall of fame and football coaches hall of fame."

According to Turner, her father said of all his accolades, having the Les Hipple Athletic Complex named after him was his greatest honor. "He lived 20 years after the dedication, staying involved all of those years," she said.

In addition, Marion High School student Mia Laube spoke about her positive school experiences during the event. "There are so many opportunities to be in everything." And, Marion High School students give and receive smiles to each other every day. The "support system is amazing ... Students across activities give shout outs to each other," she said.

A prerecorded video was also shown, where MISD Board President David Law (who was not able to attend) said, "If it is best for our kids, then let's get going."

For more project information, visit and click on Our District, then find The Marion Foundation and Marion Athletic Booster Club under the Community heading.
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