30 Year Booster Officer
"Building A Better Big Blue One Volunteer Hour At A Time"
NEWS By: Richard Jones
Hamilton Journal News
Nov 24, 2011
HAMILTON — Since she joined the Hamilton Boosters in the early 1980s, Anna Harvey has been a mainstay, a tireless leader, a dedicated contributor to school programs, filling in the gaps when the district’s general fund couldn’t keep up with demand.
“Her dedication to our students and the school is unparalleled,” said Hamilton’s Athletic Director Mike Dellapina. “From her service on the Board of Education and the Booster Club, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has put in the time to serve Hamilton City Schools like Anna has.”
“She’s the ultimate depiction of a high school booster,” echoed Fine Arts Director Laurin Sprague.
“She’s like the Energizer Bunny,” said his secretary, Leane Schisler. “She never stops.”
All this, even though her two daughters graduated in the 1980s and are now teachers in Hamilton themselves.
Harvey, 75, said that when she was growing up, her own mother liked to help out with school functions whenever she could.
“She didn’t drive, but she would do whatever she could at home whenever she could, like baking things for bake sales,” she said.
Her own foray into school volunteering began working school carnivals at Adams Elementary when her daughter, Missy, was in school there. She followed her daughters through middle school and high school, starting around 1983, but when they graduated, she kept going as the president and guiding force for the Hamilton High Boosters, even while working full-time for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 39 years, until her retirement in 1995.
“I quit when I got pregnant, but a few months later, my boss called and asked me what it would take for me to come back to work,” she said. “I said, ‘Just one thing: I want the freedom to do things with my kids.’
“My bosses were very understanding because they had children, too,” she said. “That made it easy for me.
“I like what I do and that’s also what makes it so much easier for me. You meet so many different people, and people stop me on the street to say ‘Hi’ and to thank me for something. That’s why I don’t understand why people don’t want to be more involved.
The biggest change she’s seen with the boosters is that there was once two groups, one for academics and one for athletics, but a few years later the two groups merged.
“We could get more people involved that way because they wouldn’t have to pay two sets of dues,” she said.
Harvey organizes two major fund raisers for the boosters each year, a craft sale in the fall and a Blue and White Night, a Vegas-style event held at the Old Moose Hall.
The Hamilton High School Boosters contributes around $40,000 a year to provide things the district cannot budget for the high school and freshman school, Harvey said.
Teachers and administrators can fill out a form that details “what they want, how much it will cost and how many people it will reach,” Harvey said. The boosters’ executive board reviews the requests, and makes the allocation, but Harvey said that they have never turned down a request for funds.
“We will not pay a kid’s pay-to-play or for trips unless we feel it’s beneficial to the school,” she said. “But if a kid goes to state for a sport or other activity that they’ve earned the right to go to, and if their parent is a booster member, we give them $20 or $25 spending money, but that’s the only time we pay for any individual.”
The boosters also provide four $500 scholarships each year to a Hamilton High School senior.
“She’s a reliable constant,” said Hamilton High School Principal Dennis Malone. “What’s important about what she does is that people come in with different requests and she always manages to make sure we can accommodate them. Anna is always positive, always saying that’s something we need to do.
“She takes total responsibility for so many things that year in and year out, she’s the one who puts it all together.
“She’s the heart and soul of the boosters, and she doesn’t ask anything in return,” Malone said. “That’s the amazing thing about it.”
“She’s always been happy to oblige us,” Sprague said. “We have our own parent groups, too, and she is always very cooperative. She works closely with the band parents and other to make sure everything is taken care of.”
“In all the years I’ve done this, I’ve only had one disagreement,” Harvey said, “She was jumping on one of my workers and I told her if she could do it better then go ahead and do it.
“But other than that, I can’t say there’s anyone who’s not been nice. The teachers and the staff are phenomenal.”
As if being chief booster wasn’t enough, Harvey is also in the middle of her third term on the Board of Education, and said that as long as her health holds up, a fourth term is possible, but she hasn’t made up her mind yet.
“It’s questionable,” she said.
“My daughters say they’ll have to carry me out of here,” she said.