Trinity Lutheran High School hosts 17th annual dinner auction


The past, present and future of Trinity Lutheran High School in Seymour were highlighted during the annual dinner auction.

The past and present were featured on the first tables in the school’s hallway for the silent auction, as they contained items that were made or donated by alumni and current students.

The past was celebrated with Jana Gray’s toast to Juli Bartells, who was chairwoman of the auction from 2016 to 2019 and played a vital role in assuring the event was a success. She died May 3, 2019, at the age of 57 from an aneurysm.

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The past also was delved into by 2007 Trinity graduate Micah McCormick, who shared how far the school has come since it was established and how her experience there impacted her decision to become a Lutheran schoolteacher.

The present was represented by current students and their parents and Trinity staff members attending or volunteering at the 17th annual event Saturday night at the school.

The future and present students will benefit from the nearly $305,000 that was raised. The total is among the top three in the history of the event. The record of nearly $330,000 was set in 2019.

Principal Clayton Darlage said it was great to see the tables set up in the Bollinger Athletic Complex full of people willing to support the school and its pursuit of salvation toward students and preparing them to be Lutheran and Christian leaders in the community.

“Your sacrifice to make that happen is unbelievable and much appreciated,” he told the nearly 580 people in attendance.

Darlage said the event is one of the largest fundraisers in the area and is the largest fundraiser auction in Lutheran schools across the country.

David Probst, the school’s director of development, said this year featured 576 items for the silent auction and 80 items in the live auction.

On Saturday night, Probst announced the silent auction raised more than $46,000, which was $6,000 higher than 2019. That drew a round of applause.

“Thank you to everybody who bid and bid often to help raise other people’s bids so they had to spend more money,” he said.

The students/alumni section of the silent auction was new this year.

Sophomore Preston Kovener was among the current students who made items to put up for bid. He used the school’s three-dimensional printer to make a set of baby Yodas and a few other items.

“Mr. Probst talked to my dad about he needed donations and asked me to make stuff,” Kovener said. “I figure it’s helping the school, and I enjoy doing it, so it has been fun for me. It has been cool, and it’s a fun experience because that gave me something to do over Christmas break to get ready for the auction.”

Kovener also demonstrated the printer’s use as people checked out the silent auction.

“(Probst) thought it would be a good idea if I brought this to demonstrate to people and talk about it a little bit and show them how it works,” he said. “It’s neat because in engineering, we’re being taught how to 3-D model stuff, so I used some of that knowledge to help make some stuff for robotics and whatnot.”

Giving students a way to showcase their skills at this year’s auction was a good idea, Kovener said.

“It’s neat that the students can make stuff and then be sold to relatives and friends that help support the school so it keeps going and the cycle continues,” he said.

Of the money raised from the auction, the first $140,000 in profit will be set aside for student tuition assistance for the 2020-21 school year.

“We are using $140,000 for financial aid, but it’s important to realize that this year alone, the overall financial need for families is $450,000,” Darlage said.

Also Saturday night, more than 100 people made donations toward the school’s wish list. That will allow for the purchase of Algebra I and II and geometry textbooks, a floor guard tarp system, teacher laptops, a new phone system, a refrigerated food vending machine, graphing calculators for mathematics, 30 blow-molded tables with carts, roll paper dispensers and paper.

In all, $96,300 was raised for the wish list, which was valued at $70,000. Money raised after $70,000 will be split between deferred maintenance and debt retirement.

To keep Trinity moving forward, Darlage talked about some new options that will be available for students next school year.

That includes technical and skilled trades programs either at the school or partnering with Seymour Community School Corp., engineering and health sciences graduation pathways, establishing Project Lead the Way and building the business and computer education programs.

“We want to continue to seek partnerships with the community, seek partnerships with industries in the community and the surrounding communities to help make that happen,” Darlage said.

The hope for the school’s future also was highlighted during the invocation by the Rev. Brad Akey, associate pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Seymour.

“We want to continue to take steps forward,” he said. “We want to continue to prioritize Lutheran education. We want to nurture, educate and prepare these students and the students to come for whatever in life might be thrown at them, that they may have a foundation in God’s Word and know to always rely on it through all of life’s turbulent affairs.”

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