A Conversation With Robert Evjen and Emilie Bennett

Emille Bennett and Robert Evjen.
Emilie Bennett and Robert Evjen.

By Stephen J. Kotz

Robert Evjen, the president, and Emilie Bennett, a board member of the Sag Harbor Booster Foundation, discuss the sixth annual Quiz Show fundraiser, which will be held tonight, May 4, at Page at 63 Main at 6:30 p.m., the organization’s mission, and some of the ways it supports Sag Harbor kids in their educational endeavors.

When one thinks of “booster clubs” one typically thinks of sports. How is the booster foundation different?

R.E. We do provide grants to the sports side, but unlike a typical booster club, we provide grants to the junior national honor society, the chorus, the band, theater group and robotics. And just this morning, we got a funding request from the math department. We also provide two $1,000 scholarships to seniors.

E.B. We are there to provide things that maybe the school budget does not cover.

R.E. First and foremost, our focus is on the kids. When we set up the foundation, our mission statement was to provide enrichment opportunities for the kids of the Sag Harbor School District. We thought we could provide extracurricular activities to help them pursue their dreams. That’s really where were coming from.

What are some of the things the foundation has sponsored?

 E.B. For example, this Sunday we are sponsoring the elementary school chorus’s trip to the Ducks game, where they will sing “God Bless, America.”

We started Spirit Night six years ago to raise school spirit and showcase all the different things at the school. The robotics team performed at halftime, the high school chorus and middle school chorus sang the national anthem before the games. It showcases all the students.

We’ll help send the high school chorus and theater kids to a Broadway show. They go into the theater, say it’s “Jersey Boys.” The cast will be there, they will actually teach the kids a number and the kids get to perform it on stage. Then they go out to dinner and come back for the show. Otherwise those costs would be all on the kids.

We’ve sent the robotics teams to events in Ohio and to the competition at Hofstra. We help offset those expenses that are not included in the budget.

When the girls field hockey made it to states, they were going to play on a turf field, so we provided the money to rent a field so they could practice on the morning of their game. We have covered costs of referees and registration fees for summer basketball, and one year the cross-country team requested help when they went to an invitational at Brown University. And this year we helped the softball team by providing a pitching coach to give extra instruction.

When was the foundation created and how is different from the Reutershan Educational Trust?

 R.E. We formed over six years ago. There are nine of us on the board. It is really a great group of parents who volunteer their time and work extremely hard for our events and our kids.

E.B. The trust provides scholarship money for a student who is interested in the arts and they also help with the language and arts trip. It’s more of a singular focus.

R.E. Whereas we try to encompass everything. We do it all.

Tell us about the Quiz Show.

 E.B. It is very similar to trivia night at Townline BBQ or a pub quiz like they have at Buckley’s in Hampton Bays. Sean Kelly, a high school history teacher has been MC all six years. He does a great job putting together the trivia questions, mixing up current events with tougher questions and other obscure things.

Last year, we had 132 people in teams of two to eight people. Some of the teams have been coming every year; others just drop in. Last year, we had it at Muse, and a couple wandered in thinking the restaurant was open, so they ended up staying and having a good time.

There will be light hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. We have 50-50 raffles, and local stores and businesses donate things for a silent auction. Tickets are $40 a person.

For more information, visit sagharborboosterfoundation.org.