When students at St. John XXIII Catholic School arrive for a back-to-school movie on Friday, they will be the first crowd to use the new bleachers at Ed Dobrozi Field.
The project for the new aluminum bleachers started earlier this year as the old aging wood bleachers had rotted through, causing one minor injury, according to T. Duane Gordon, executive director/CEO of the Middletown Community Foundation.
After that incident, school officials began researching grants to replace the bleachers, he said.
Gordon said while the foundation’s policies do not permit awarding grants that directly further the activities of a religious institution, they were able to consider awarding a partial grant because the school’s athletic field is also the home of several secular teams such as the Butler County Bombers and BC Red Sox youth baseball teams, an open youth lacrosse league and as a practice field for another school.
“There’s always a fine line when working with religious institutions,” Gordon said. “We look at the religious content involved and make a judgment call.”
He said the foundation does work with several organizations on various nonsecular projects such as sponsoring the First United Methodist Church’s concert series; afterschool tutoring programs at St. Luke Presbyterian Church; and assisting needy families through the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul.
The foundation awarded a challenge grant of $10,000 as part of a fund-raising effort by school officials. Gordon said the grant covered a portion of the $30,000 project and that it took a few months for school Principal Dawn Pickerill’s team to raise the balance.
Before the movie “Trolls” starts Friday, Gordon will be there to present the $10,000 challenge grant check to the school.
Pickerill could not be reached for comment. However, Ami Vitori, a St. John XXIII board member, said Pickerill worked to raise the funds to replace the bleachers that were in a state of disrepair and that the foundation grant helped to make the project a reality.
“I think it’s exciting for the community and St. John XXIII to receive this grant as other sports such as lacrosse continue to grow,” Vitori said.