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West Fargo getting used to having two booster clubs

Illustration by Troy Becker

School booster club opportunities have doubled in West Fargo School District with the opening of a second high school.

For decades, the Packer Backers booster club has been the volunteer support group for West Fargo High School activities.

A second club, Mustang Boosters, was formed in spring 2013 to do the same for Sheyenne High School, which opened in 2012 at 800 40th Ave. E.

“We’ve got a lot of support. We’re constantly getting new members,” said Bryan Schulz, Mustang Boosters club president.

Mustang Boosters currently has about 175 members. Packer Backers has about 320 members.

Both clubs operate as nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations, each having a 12-member board.

Curt Jones, West Fargo High School activities director, serves as school liaison to Packer Backers.

Ross Richards, Sheyenne High School activities director, holds the same role at Sheyenne High.

“My role with them is basically for advice,” said Richards.

Both booster clubs support all types of activities, not only sports, as some may think.

“We’re not limited to only athletics,” said Al Hogenson, outgoing Packer Backers president. “We benefit over 55 student groups in one way, shape or form. Any student group with an adviser is able to submit a request for some type of support or assistance, and we will review it.”

Ditto with Mustang Boosters.

“We encompass everything from drama to music to theater, the whole gamut,” said Schulz. “It’s not just athletics.”

“I view the Mustang Boosters as being a support mechanism for all activities at Sheyenne High School,” Richards said. “It’s a mechanism that’s out there to enhance opportunities for kids that maybe the school district cannot offer.”

Jones isn’t certain when Packer Backers got its start. He remembers the term being used in the mid-1970s when he was a West Fargo student.

His main role is to provide guidance with fundraising and channeling those funds, Jones said.

Packer Backers has undertaken many fundraising projects over the years. Among them, securing corporate sponsorships for the $50,000 electronic sign at the school site entrance and similarly priced video board in the school gymnasium.

Other examples have included purchasing a football blocking sled and field striper costing about $10,000 each; contributions to Post Prom and Post Grad activities; paying for student meals, transportation and housing accommodations; and an array of equipment needs, he said.

In addition, students and clubs can earn money for doing in-school jobs like operating the video board, working concessions and other tasks. Those earnings help fund their activities, Jones said.

Last year, for instance, student clubs and organizations earned from $100 to $700 per event selling concessions at a wide range of events.

Overall, $20,700 of the $55,722.82 in total concession sales last year went to support groups like cheer team, drama club, math club, wrestling, key club, boys and girls golf, soccer and swim teams, yearbook, school newspaper, forensics, Technology Student Association and others.

That, Jones said, has reduced the need for students and parents to conduct as many door-to-door fundraisers, selling everything from pizzas to Christmas wreaths, to help pay activity costs.

Transitioning to two booster clubs has been challenging.

Mustang Boosters, said Richards, is a “passionate group of people that has had to be part of almost an earth-shattering change in West Fargo, a community that has only known one high school and one athletic brand.”

Now there’s a new name, new school colors, in-district competition.

“What we’re asking these people to do is not easy: to basically start from scratch and facilitate changing from one high school to a second high school,” Richards said. “That has not been easy for the West Fargo community and that’s certainly understandable.”

The first team of Mustang Boosters has done a “marvelous job” in a short period of time, he said.

“They have bought into being Mustangs. Their kids are Mustangs. They want to see the same experiences for their kids that they would enjoy at West Fargo High School,” Richards said.

As nonprofits, both booster organizations have their own checking accounts for paying operating costs.

Once items are paid for, the school district owns them, Jones said.

Packer Backers, the school district, or both may pay for maintenance costs, depending on how contracts for those items have been written, Jones said.

“The Packer Backers and school district work very well with one another and have a good understanding,” he said.