(Posted March 23, 2022)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
“You could tell from the minute you walked in the door, it was going to be a big day.”
That’s how Chad Eisler, Madison-Plains Local Schools superintendent, described the atmosphere in the high school gym on March 5, the day of the 75th Annual Madison-Plains Scholastic Booster Auction.
Eisler’s prediction was right.
An estimated 300 people, roughly 100 more than the event’s average, packed the gym to bid on items that ranged from a $1,000 discount on bean seeds to a generator, a mower, and handmade quilts.
As it turned out, it was an especially generous crowd. The auction netted $43,208, shattering the previous record of $23,000 set in 2020. In a typical year, the auction raises between $10,000 and $15,000. All proceeds go toward scholarships for graduating seniors and the annual scholarship banquet in May.
Valerie Eades, Booster club president, was thrilled with the results. She credits the increase to a couple of factors. 1) Businesses donated items of higher value this year. 2) In advertising the auction, the club pushed the fact that this was the auction’s 75th anniversary. The idea was to make everything bigger and better for the special occasion.
“The Class of 1972 (the first graduating class from Madison-Plains High School) really jumped on board. They put out a challenge to other alumni classes to donate items,” Eades said.
Twelve alumni classes answered the call, donating individual items and themed baskets of merchandise and gift cards.
The biggest seller of the day, though, was a cake. The selling and re-selling of a cake is an auction tradition that dates back several decades to when Betty Wilson, and later her son, Tim Wilson, would donate a hickory nut cake. In 2018, Vallery Farmhouse Bakery picked up where the Wilson family left off. That also was the year that Brandy Ernst Keller, a 2016 Madison-Plains graduate, passed away from breast cancer.
“In the process of all of that happening, we decided to start a scholarship in Brandy’s name. So, we matched up the cake with the scholarship,” said Eades, Brandy’s sister.
The way it goes, a bidder “buys” the cake then gives it back to be auctioned off again. This process usually goes a few rounds before pieces of the cake are sold off. Each of the last several years, the cake has brought in about $3,000. This year, it was sold five times before being sold off in 13 pieces, raising a total of $16,700.
“We were shocked. I know my parents were, I don’t know if ‘happy’ is the right word, but honored,” Eades said.
Two $1,500 scholarships in Brandy’s memory go to one boy and one girl each year based on their academics and involvement in athletics and 4-H or FFA. It is one of many scholarships the booster club gives out each year. The others are: two $1,500 awards in honor of former teachers, Linville Herald, Steve Jackson and Kenneth Moody; two $500 awards for students going to trade schools; eight $1,000 awards to the top 15 percent of students in the class based on grade point average; and book scholarships ($175 each) to all graduating seniors who plan to further their education after high school.
Because of the extra success of this year’s auction, the booster club plans to increase the amount of each of these scholarships and possibly give out more scholarships overall.
This year’s auction committee included booster club officers–Eades, president; Marcy Hawkins, vice president; Jennifer English, treasurer–and club members, Jackie Bolin, Rena Call, Sarah Coil, Angela Cook, Amanda Cordell, Victoria Lindsey and Carrie Wallner.