In 1996, the Sisters Schools Foundation was created to respond to major budget cuts and tax-limiting measures that threatened programs and activities at schools across the state. The Foundation’s mission was to raise vital funds to support these programs at Sisters Elementary, Middle and High Schools.
Concerned parents, school administrators and community leaders came together to develop the Foundation’s first fundraising event – the Sisters Starry Nights Benefit Concert Series. Organized and staffed entirely by volunteers, the event debuted in 1997 and is the major source of funding for the Sisters Schools Foundation. The event has featured performances graciously donated by such artists as Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Lyle Lovett, Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, Kathy Mattea, Rodney Crowell, Kim Carnes, John Hiatt, Keb’ Mo’, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Lee Ann Womack, Hal Ketchum, Chely Wright, Kenny Rankin, Nicolette Larson, Suzy Bogguss, Jeffrey Steele, Big Al Anderson and Karla Bonoff, among others.
In recent years, new Starry Nights events were created to continue the commitment to finding innovative ways to support Sisters schools. These events included “A Starry Summer Night” with the High Street Band at Aspen Lakes, a benefit performance of the classic play “Love Letters” starring veteran actors Gregory Harrison and Linda Purl at the Tower Theatre, a performance by University of Oregon a cappella singing groups “On the Rocks” and “Divisi,” and “A Starry Nights Christmas with Gary Morris.”
The Sisters School District had to cut over $1.3 million from already thin budgets since last year. As the funding crisis continues to worsen for Oregon public schools, Starry Nights takes on even greater importance for the district and the students it serves as it provides support that helps keep vital programs alive.
To date, Starry Nights has raised more than $1 million in net proceeds and has funded a multitude of programs including music, art, drama, science, sports, math, technology, foreign language, IEE, outdoor school and has provided such key learning elements as state-of-the-art interactive SMART Boards in all classrooms at all three schools, as well as textbooks and library books. In addition, a portion of the funds raised each year are set aside in an annuity growth fund that will provide financial stability for Sisters students in the future.
Sisters is a community that has a long history of working in harmony on behalf of children and education. Starry Nights extends its great appreciation to the caring circle of artists, sponsors and volunteers who have shared its commitment to keeping Sisters schools strong!