Fundraising effort underway for Pierce Auditorium

Upcoming performance to raise money for new seating

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 5, 2014

GROSSE POINTE PARK — Pierce Middle School’s auditorium is in need of an upgrade with seating that dates back 75 years to when the school opened its doors.

It’s time to make some changes, and the school is hoping that it can raise some funds for the effort.

“A big part of the performing arts is the validation performers get from the audience in addition to the experience,” Pierce Principal Gary Buslepp said in an email. “The age of the chairs and the leg room provided in 1939 has not changed. Wider seats with more leg room are in order.”

While they are unsure of an exact cost for new seating, since they haven’t put out any bids for the work, seating for an auditorium like Pierce’s typically ranges from between $275-$300 for each seat, he said.

School officials and fundraising planners are hoping that the school board will authorize the work and that they can raise some funding in the meantime to offset the district’s costs.

“I’m hoping we can share with the board that our fundraising has produced X amount of dollars in hopes that will significantly offset the cost of replacement,” Buslepp said. “Although we may have put the cart before the horse, it was a proactive approach. We're raising and saving dollars right now that are placed in a custodial account for this eventual upgrade.”

Students and the community use the auditorium.

“The auditorium is used daily for drama classes on stage, weekly for assemblies, rehearsals, grade-level town hall meetings, and evening events (concerts/parent information nights/plays/musicals/guest speakers/orientations),” Buslepp said. “Seldom does a week go by where there is not some type of evening activity.”

A big fundraiser is coming up that features the musical parody troupe A (Habeas) Chorus Line.

To help raise money for the updating and restoration, the troupe will perform at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at the school, 15430 Kercheval in Grosse Pointe Park. The group is in its 22nd season of performances in Michigan and throughout the country.

Sara Fischer Hodges is a mom and a member of the musical group since its inception in 1992. She said the group has done fundraiser performances when individuals from the group have requested shows for organizations that they support.

“After all the years we have spent working together, we enjoy supporting each other in efforts such as these,” she said in an email. “At this point, we’re family, so each of us is happy to do what we can to help out our brothers and sisters in the group. 

“We all love performing together, and appearing at fundraisers also exposes the group to people who have never seen us before — and always generates new fans,” she said. “Regarding this particular fundraiser for Pierce, we also all have children, so everyone in the group fully understands the importance and impact of supporting our schools through fundraising.”   

She said this fundraiser is especially important to her as a mother of 13-year-old Jack Hodges, a student at Pierce. She’s been a volunteer in the schools since her son was in kindergarten.

“I created the Maire School Drama Enrichment program in 2008, which is now entering its seventh season,” she said.  “This year, our performances will be held at the Pierce auditorium, and I am looking forward to having the opportunity for my drama group (58 students performing in this year’s production) to perform there in the future, when the auditorium has been renovated,” she said. “This year, through my enrichment class, we will be donating funds raised at our performances to the GP Foundation for Public Education.”

Hodges said that schools need the support of the community to be able to provide the highest level of education.

“Our children are the future, and their education has to be a priority,” she said. “Unfortunately, schools can no longer exist and maintain the highest level of excellence in education without support from outside resources, such as the Foundation and events like this fundraiser. Giving back to the community is a priority in my life, and I am also trying to set an example for my son to follow as he grows up.”

Tickets for the fundraiser are $20 and can be purchased at Posterity Gallery in the Village, The League Shop on the Hill or in the main office at Pierce.

Call (313) 402-5805 or (313) 432-4700 for more information, or visit