I-S students learn to work with community
By Holly Neumann
The second annual Haunted Mill recently took place at the historic Iola Mill in downtown Iola.
Tom Fucik, owner of the facility, once again donated the space to the Iola-Scandinavia Class of 2017 to host the fundraiser event for its junior prom and other activities.
“We’ve always felt it was a perfect venue for a presentation like this and offered it to the school for them to use,” said Fucik. “To see the kids, adult volunteers and school staff use their creativity, cooperation and hard work to successfully raise money for class projects is a reward that can’t be measured.”
Fucik said that a fundraising project like this teaches students that success comes from hard work and cooperation, but can also be fun.
“This is an experience they will collectively remember for a long time,” he said.
Brooklyn Podgorny, a member of the junior class, agrees.
“It was a great experience. It taught me how important communication and leadership is during such a big event,” she said. “It took a lot of time and effort, but once it was ready it was a lot of fun.”
Fundraising advisor Jill Willems was pleased with the outcome.
“I was hoping we would break the numbers from last year and we did beat that total by about 50 people,” she said.
She noted the countless hours that went into hosting the event.
“I seriously can’t even guess how many hours,” she said. “We cleared the mill out Oct. 11 and people put many hours in each week until we opened. It is too hard to even estimate because people even worked at home on projects when I wasn’t even aware.”
Students, staff, parents and even siblings took part.
Among the volunteers was the Johnson family, whose daughter Brooke is a member of the junior class.
“This was a great experience,” said Corie Johnson. “Helping the class and spending time with the kids was a lot of fun.”
Nick Johnson, dressed as a gorilla each night, would sneak up on the unsuspecting guests to scare them.
“I was surprised to see the number of people that came out each night,” he said. “It was great to see that support and the people were definitely scared.”
Even 8 year old Caydence Johnson enjoyed it.
“Seeing the people get scared was kind of funny,” said Caydence, who played the part of a small child. “I liked making them scream.”
She was quick to admit that she herself was a little scared to go through the mill.
“It was scary,” she said.
The patrons agree.
“These kids did a wonderful job,” said Cheryl Duberstein, who could hardly talk from all the screaming she had done. “It was beyond scary. I must have jumped back at least 50 times.”
“I loved the little girl in the crib,” said Matt Bonikowske. “The way she sat there rubbing the head of the doll she was holding. Creepy, is all I can say.”
Rich Rasmussen, whose daughter Brynn is a member of the junior class, served as a tour guide.
“There was a lot of time and commitment put into this,” he said. “This has to continue, as it is just not an event for the junior class, it is part of the community.”
Fucik gives credit to the class of 2016 for blazing the trail to success.
“They can’t be denied what they accomplished with no blueprint to follow,” he said. “This year’s class built upon that foundation and didn’t disappoint. What both classes accomplished in a few short weekends is absolutely astounding.”