“Race to the Future”
The Endowment Association of USD 257, in 2004, undertook a project in an effort to enhance an amenity available to the school district and the Iola community. This project motivated the Endowment Association to launch its first ever major funding effort.
The “Race to the Future” was an endeavor to restore the Riverside Park track and field facility to its intended purpose of serving the school district and community as venue suitable for competition. Built during the Great Depression, the track and field facility was only modestly upgraded more than 35 years ago. At the time the project was initiated, the poor quality of the venue, included a chat and dirt track that has made the facility unfit for high school athletic practices and events. This factor alone has made it necessary for the approximately 100 student-track athletes of the High School and Middle School to share daily practice time at a track facility that USD 257 leased from Allen County Community College.
Acknowledging that the track program in USD 257 had earned one of only three state championships in school history, not to mention numerous Southeast Kansas League championships and continues to produce numerous individual state champions and participants, members of the Endowment Association believed strongly that our schools and our community deserved a suitable and safe facility that would assure the future of a successful program.
The development of a new track in Iola’s Riverside Park was consistent with the enhancement that other park facilities had received in recent years. The new track and field venue permits the school district, after over 30 years, to host home meets. Just as importantly, the facility has attracted members of the community who are engaged in fitness and wellness programs.
The Endowment Association sought pledges from local businesses, industries and alumni in an effort to secure the funds necessary to complete this important project. Three (3) year commitments were sought to raise the needed funds and the endowment association successfully raised close to $400,000 to assist in renovating the track and football field.
Since the completion of the new track it has hosted several state regional meets as well as numerous SEK league meets. Smaller schools in the area, including Crest and Marmaton Valley have also used the facility to host their home meets as well.
Members of the Endowment Association of USD 257 believed that enhancement of the track and field facility in Riverside Park would benefit the entire community by improving an amenity that can positively impact the quality of life for all students in the USD 257 as well as the residents of the Iola area.