BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Business and community leaders, elected officials, current and former students and district staff attended a special ribbon-cutting ceremony at Maumee High School’s Kazmaier Stadium.
The event, which took place on August 15, culminated a $1.2 million fundraising effort that began three years ago and marked phase 1 of the newly renovated stadium project.
“I honestly can’t believe I am standing here right now addressing the rededication of our stadium,” said MHS principal Matt Dick. “It’s surreal. It’s almost like a dream and I’m just so humble by what all of us have accomplished as a community.”
Several community members, alumni and businesses stepped up to support the effort, Dick said. Dr. James Chappuis, MHS Class of 1973, and George Chapman, Class of 1965, each donated more than $250,000.
The newly built stadium plaza and entryway is named in honor of Dr. Chappuis’ mother, Sarah M. Chappuis, with whom he credits his success. He described his mother – who was divorced at a time when being a single mother was not common – as a hardworking woman who taught him the importance of resolve, perseverance and humility.
“She taught me that no matter how successful we get, we’ve got to stay humble. Because if we stay humble, we’re still teachable. When we lose humility, we lose the ability to learn and we lose the ability to grow,” Chappuis said.
After graduating from MHS, Chappuis went on to become a successful orthopedic spine surgeon in Atlanta.
“When (my mother) died in 1997, she said, ‘Don’t forget where you came from,’ so that is why I’m here today,” he said.
Because of his generous donation, the new alumni center is also named the Dr. James L. Chappuis Alumni Center.
In addition to the entryway and alumni center, other stadium improvements include a new turf field named Chapman Field in honor of major donor George Chapman, a new ticket booth, a Panther Den, new public restrooms and improvements to the home stands and home locker room. The visitor-side entryway has also been improved.
District Superintendent Dr. Todd Cramer said the project was both exciting and at times unnerving.
“I hope everyone agrees in the end that we have a product that we can be proud of and that can be a catalyst in allowing us to finish the remaining phases in the coming years,” said Cramer. “For our students, this new outdoor facility reflects the high quality of education that takes place inside the walls of our classrooms across the district.”
Kim Swann, of the Class of 1995, returned from her home in Kentucky to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony. She organized a fundraising effort in which the Class of 1995 raised $485 to purchase a brick paver in the entry walkway.
“Maumee will always be home to me,” Swann said
Kathy Rasey Rawlins and Rosie Faulkner Fellhauer, of the Class of 1965, were pleasantly surprised with the large number of people who came to the event. They stay well connected to the district, getting together every month with fellow alumni.
“All the kids in our class are close,” said Rawlins.
Fellhauer agreed. “We’ve been friends since first grade,” she said.
Work will continue on the stadium with phase 2 of the project, which is scheduled to take place in August 2020 and will include improvements to the visitor side and parking lot.
The Panther Pride Foundation, which is credited with raising funds for the project, will continue fundraising efforts to support not only phase 2 of the project, but also other projects associated with the district – in the areas of academics and the arts.
Dr. Chappuis is one of many alumni who plan to continue giving back to the district.
“It was part of my experience and made me who I am today,” he said. “You can’t put a dollar sign on what I was given in the 12 years that I was in this school system.”