October 10, 2013Nearly 75 years ago, on Sept. 18, 1939, John D. Pierce Junior High opened its doors, the district's first junior high or middle school to do so.
There's a photo from that first day, taken during the inaugural assembly honoring the school's opening, of superintendent of schools Samuel Brownell, school board president Charles A. Parcells and about 25 others on stage at the school auditorium.
The photo, as well as others from Pierce's vault, hints at the rich history of the school and its auditorium. To celebrate that history, principal Gary Buslepp, Pierce staff and a committee of about 17 parents, led by Lisa Kotula and Deanna Kado, have planned a 75th Anniversary Dinner and Auction event for 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Pierce auditorium, which in the past few years has fallen in need of repair or restoration.
Superintendent of schools Samuel Brownell and school board president
Charles A. Parcells were present during the inaugural assembly in 1939 at John
D. Pierce Junior High. Photo courtesy of Pierce Middle School
"Many kids have gotten their start on our stage," Buslepp said. "But quite frankly, a performance without an audience lacks. So, we want to make sure our audience is comfortable. Our seats, they've withstood the test of time, and they are definitely in need of some tender, love and care, if not replacement."
Those involved in the event hope to raise about $250,000 toward the restoration, through the dinner and auction and other smaller events throughout the year.
The auction, which consists of live and silent formats, includes items such as timeshares, Detroit Tigers, Pistons and Red Wings tickets, autographed memorabilia from Michigan State University men's basketball coach Tom Izzo and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, as well as gift packages from local schools and Pierce staff.
Kado and Kotula are still encouraging other community donations, even after their donation deadline has passed.
"If something comes through a little bit later, you can always contact us and we can see what we can do to push it through," said Kado.
An updated list of donors and sponsors is available on the Pierce website by clicking on the "75th Anniversary" link.
Both silent and live auctions are in addition to hors d'oeuvres, an open bar, sit-down dinner and dessert.
Tickets for the event are $50 and Buslepp said sales are picking up steam. To purchase them, contact the Pierce main office at (313) 432-4715.
"Friends of Pierce, feel free to join us on that night and have a great evening," Buslepp said. "Not just fellowship, but a great meal as well and an opportunity to walk away with some nice gifts."
"It's going to be a nice evening," Kotula said.