‘WILD FOR ETHS’ fundraiser goes virtual for the first time

WILD FOR ETHS fundraiser goes virtual for the first time

Anika Radhakrishnan, Staff Writer

Every year, ETHS comes together to raise money in a fundraiser for new spaces and resources as well as for funding to certain programs to better the lives of the students. Normally, WILD FOR ETHS would be an in-person event, with parents and alumni celebrating and raising vital funds for our school. However, because of the pandemic, this year, it’s going virtual.

The ETHS Foundation has a goal of raising $100,000 this year to renovate the girls locker room, add an all-gender locker room and buy a new conductor tower to enhance the band practice field. The money will also go towards expanding and remodeling the ETHS literacy lab, making hotspots and Chromebooks more accessible for students, investing in STEAM/STEM programs and providing support to families during the pandemic.

“If I could use some keywords to describe the event, one it’s fun, two it’s impactful and number three, it’s inclusive to all. In terms of fun, we have some wonderful entertainment with alumni and student performances,” says ETHS Foundation Executive Director Joanne Bertsche. “And there will be impactful stories from students about how the funds that are raised expand student opportunity and equity in education.”

Jessie Mueller (’01) will perform alongside the ETHS choir at WILD for ETHS. (Photo by Jacqueline Harris for The Interval)

This special night will be filled with entertainment from the band, videos with messages from students & Willie the Wildkit and many chances to win raffle prizes. Performers include teacher and performer Matthew Hunter (‘05), musical director Ian Weinberger (‘05) of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton and Tony Award Winner Jessie Mueller (‘01).

Mueller, who is known for playing Carole King in the original cast of the 2014 musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and known for playing Jenna in the original cast of the 2016 musical Waitress, performed at a past ETHS fundraiser in 2018. This time, instead of performing solo, Mueller will be singing “Beautiful” by Carole King with the choir and theater students. 

“Everybody’s been doing these things where people sing individually. It’s been fun to see how that kind of stuff has changed and developed, and [Bertsche] was like, ‘The choir has done a bunch of those,’ and I said, ‘Well. I’ve done a bunch of those, so maybe we could do it together,’ rather than just me showing up in a box singing.”

After the idea to collaborate was decided, the Tony Award winner permitted the use of an arrangement of “Beautiful” for students to follow along and sing their parts to. From there, the Director of Choirs Sarah Zegree created practice tracks for every vocal part to sing along to. Then, students recorded their parts and filmed themselves individually so Zegree could put all the audio and video together. 

Jessie Mueller (’01) joins some of the members of ETHS’ choir. (Photo provided by ETHS Foundation)

“We thought ‘Beautiful’ would be a great song, because it’s just a hopeful message, and it’s one of those things where I have to remind myself, the first lyrics are: “You’ve got to get up every morning/With a smile on your face/And show the world all the love in your heart,” which I think, nowadays. it gets really tough,” Mueller states. “This is a challenging time, and I know everybody says that but we got to say it again and again. because I think the waves are the challenges that just keep coming.”

With the hard work being put in from the students, teachers and alumni to make this night entertaining, it’s an important aim for the foundation to see patrons give back and donate as much as they can during the fundraiser. Even though the goal is to raise $100,000, the virtual event is affordable for all. 

“We’re also able to be inclusive about the price, so people can pay whatever they want,” Bertsche says. “$1, $5, you could even see it free. And then we have people that donate $5,000, because they know that every penny of it goes towards the students.”

Before entering ETHS, Mueller had very little exposure to the arts when she attended a K-8 school, but during her time at ETHS, she was able to be exposed to a variety of arts programs and clubs that helped get her to where she is today. For that, she is very grateful and reinforces the idea of giving what you can to the community:

“ETHS was so instrumental to me because I got there to this school, I had been at this tiny school, and all of a sudden, all these opportunities were there, and all these opportunities that I wouldn’t have had an exposure to had I not gone to a school like that,” Mueller says. “And now, I’m a little older, and I understand these opportunities need funding and they need planning. They need teachers and time and all those things, so it takes a village to make this stuff happen. I’m always so fortunate, and I’m always happy to give back, and it just kind of seems like a no-brainer and it makes me excited to think that I could be a part of something and something that makes it possible for another kid to get exposure to.”

The ETHS Foundation will be hosting the WILD FOR ETHS virtual fundraiser online on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 6:45 pm. All are welcome to attend this event, no matter where in the world they find themselves. The general admission ticket is $100, and there are more options to pay either more or less available on the Register for Tickets & Sponsorships page

Mueller expresses her excitement for the project and hopes for the future. 

“In terms of finding ways to celebrate the day where we can all get in a room and share each other’s energies again for real, this is as akin to that as we can do,” Mueller says. “It’s been fun for me, and I hope it’s been fun for the students, and I just hope people dig it.”