An effort to purchase a new set of bleachers specifically for Towson High School's marching band was sparked last April by a donation from the school's class of 1954 — and now, nine months later, the alumni and parents have raised roughly $17,000 for the project.
Last April, Bill Litsinger, of Parkville, a member of the class of 1954, reached out to Towson High's Parent Teacher Student Association President Cheri Pegues to inquire about possible uses for $4,129 the class had raised through its 60th reunion and later solicitations.
The class wanted to contribute to something lasting to the school, Litsinger said. So Pegues reached out to school officials for ideas.
The school's athletic director, Justin Nash, suggested bleachers for the band, she said. Soon, the school's PTSA, Band Boosters and Sports Boosters were involved in the project.
The special bleachers are necessary because the band takes up too much space during home football games, leaving some fans without a seat, Pegues said.
"A lot of people have to bring their own chairs," she added.
Towson's two sets of bleachers — one for home fans and another for away fans — seat between 400 and 500 people, according to Sports Boosters Vice President Jim Fragetta.
The new bleachers would seat 143 people and be large enough to hold the band, which includes about 110 students, and their instruments, freeing up space on the main bleachers for more fans, Fragetta said. He added that the new bleachers would have wider rows than the stadium's current bleachers, to accommodate the band's instruments.
Building the new bleachers would cost between $30,000 and $40,000, Pegues said.
Colleen Krimm, president of the Music Boosters, said students she has spoken with "love the idea of ... the band having its own place."
"They bring the spirit to the kids," she added of the marching band. "If the game isn't going quite as well as you want, there's a band that's going to make you have a good time. It brings a lot of energy to the team on the field but also the fans."
Pegues said the group is seeking $20,000 from the state in order to help reach its funding goal.
Del. Steve Lafferty and state Sen. Jim Brochin, who represent Towson in the General Assembly, both support the proposed bleachers.
"I'm on board," Brochin said, adding that he will likely put in a bond bill requesting the money by the end of the month.
Lafferty said he put in a bond bill for $30,000 Jan. 13, though he added that that figure may be amended.
Backers are also still seeking monetary donations from the community, Pegues said, which can be made by contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Litsinger, who played soccer and lacrosse at Towson High, said his classmates, Jim Matthews, a retired real estate developer from Towson and former Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer helped with the fundraising effort. Twelve members of the class of 1954 contributed the $4,129 donated for the bleachers.
Pegues, who will step down as Parent Teacher Student Association president at the end of the year, when her son graduates from Towson, said she would like to have the project complete in time for football season in the fall.
"I'm very passionate about making sure this is a done deal by the time I leave," she said, adding that the bleachers will include a plaque recognizing the class of 1954's contribution.