Black Box - News

Winnetka, IL - Raise The Stage , New Trier Township High School's first ever naming-rights capital campaign, has eclipsed fundraising expectations with more than $1.2 million raised thanks to overwhelming support from across New Trier Township and beyond. Launched in August 2015 to name the school's new black box theatre in memory of two young graduates who lost their lives too soon, the campaign initially committed to raise $1 million to outfit the black box space with the components necessary to function as a working theatre and performing arts classroom.

Representatives of Raise The Stage presented the New Trier Board of Education at its June 5 meeting with the final installment payment. The campaign, orchestrated by the parents of Mary Catherine Hayes ('10) and Sarah McCausland ('13), New Trier administrators and faculty, and township residents, was emotionally-charged throughout and defined by an outpouring of generosity and enthusiasm. New Trier families and alumni; relatives and friends of the girls; and numerous organizations and individuals from across the township, the greater Chicago area , and the country contributed; and fundraising events incorporated live and online events, proceeds donated from the sale of products and services, outreach from campaign ambassadors, and contributions ranging from $10 to $100,000.

"From day one, we have been astounded by the unceasing momentum Raise The Stage generated, and by the support and compassion that surrounded these parents as they sought to honor their daughters and thank New Trier High School," said Raise The Stage campaign director Dale West Wyant, who also is a friend of both the Hayes and McCausland families. "Sarah and Mary Catherine became the people we will always hold in our hearts because of the opportunities and the environment that surrounded them at New Trier. This was a labor of love on our part, and the community responded in kind."

Mary Catherine died of cancer in 2013. Sarah was killed by a drunk driver in 2014. Both were passionate participants in New Trier's performing arts and music programs. Though Raise The Stage focused on enhancing New Trier's storied Performing Arts Division with a black box theatre in their names, the campaign enjoyed broad-based appeal - a way for anyone touched by the excellence of the New Trier educational experience to give back.

"We are thrilled by the success of the first naming rights campaign in our history, not only because it exceeded expectations, but because it united this community behind everything New Trier has always stood for - giving all students the opportunity to become their best selves and bring their gifts to the world," said New Trier Superintendent Linda Yonke. "On behalf of the New Trier staff and administration, I am grateful to everyone who contributed in any way, and cannot wait for the opening of the Hayes-McCausland Theatre!"

Raise The Stage exceeded its goal by more than $200,000; New Trier will use the additional monies raised to offset the total cost of the $2.4 million two-story black box theatre, which is one facet of the school's new performing arts wing. New Trier's $89 million referendum, approved in November 2014, provided the funding to frame out the black box space but not to outfit it. Raise the Stage bridged the gap, funding expenditures such as the lighting, sound system, AV equipment, curtains, mobile seating, and other accoutrements necessary for the theatre to function as a state-of-the-art teaching laboratory for performance, stagecraft and design students.

The first phase of New Trier's two-year renovation, which includes a new library and dining facilities, was dedicated in September 2016. The second, which incorporates the performing arts wing as well as science laboratories and visual arts studios, is scheduled for dedication on October 15, 2017. The Hayes-McCausland Theatre will be in use as a classroom and laboratory at the start of the 2017-18 school year; the first public performance in the space will be held in December, 2017.