Marblehead Boosters seek to raise the fitness bar at MHS

By Chris Stevens 

Fundraising campaign underway with $100k goal in mind

The Marblehead High School All Sports Boosters have launched an ambitious project aimed at raising the fitness bar at Marblehead High School. They have roughly three months to raise $50,000 in order to receive a matching grant that will pay for the renovation and restocking of the high school weight room.

“It’s very ambitious,” agreed Boosters President Muffy Paquette. “But I’m confident we can raise the money.”

Paquette first brought the renovation plan to the School Committee in May. The proposal included taking two rooms stocked mainly with weights and one tired treadmill and turning it into a state-of-the-art fitness center, at no cost to the School Department.

The Boosters mission is to bridge the gap between the Athletic Department and the needs of MHS students and Paquette said this project fits that ideal perfectly because it’s for the health and benefit of all students.

She said they plan to stretch the space by taking down the cinder-block walls that divide the rooms, “So the overall square footage doesn’t change dramatically, but we’ll have better placement of the equipment.”

She estimates the cost of the project to be about $150,000 with approximately one-third going to construction and the rest toward new equipment.

“The great news is that the Friends of Marblehead Public Schools has given us a grant for $50,000,” Paquette said, adding that the Boosters will first have to do some work to access the money. “We’ll get it if we can raise $50,000 on our own.”

FMPS President Aileen Sheehan said they were happy to partner with “Raise the Bar.”

“We have committed to donating a $50,000 matching grant if the Boosters reach their $50,000 fundraising goal,” she said. “FMPS strives to reach as many students as possible with our grants, and with approximately 1,030 students at MHS, and all enrolled in physical education or wellness classes, and 800 involved in the athletic program, this new fitness center will enhance the physical well-being of the entire community.”

It is the second time FMPS has stepped up with a donation that large.

“Periodically, FMPS has the opportunity to support impactful, large-scale initiatives,” Sheehan said. “In 2014, FMPS funded a $50,000 grant to create a Wi-Fi network at MHS, and we are proud to again take a leadership role in our schools.”

Sheehan said she believes FMPS has been at the forefront of funding wellness and mindfulness grants, and in light of current research linking stress reduction and academic success with physical well being, they’re excited to work with the MHS Boosters.

“We also look forward to exploring collaborative partnerships with other Marblehead school groups in the future” she added before urging people to consider donating to support the fitness center as well as FMPS, “so we can continue supporting programs that enhance and enrich the lives of Marblehead students at”

There is a tight time line that goes with the donation however. The funds must be raised by November in order for the Boosters to tap into the matching grant in December, which is when construction would start, Paquette explained. The weight room is used year round, but winter is when it’s used the least, she said. Paquette said the heavy construction would be done during Christmas break while students are out of the building.

“It doesn’t have to be finished before they come back, but we can’t have heavy equipment in there while the kids are there,” she said.


But to get to the point of construction, 50,000 things have to happen and Paquette said there are a number of fundraisers planned to help them reach their goal.

“We just started a social media campaign,” she said.

MHS students created a video that Paquette said she is hoping will drive traffic to the Booster’s site,, where people can make donations of any denomination. However, if anyone would like to write a large check they can contact Paquette directly, she said.

Monday, the Boosters also kicked off a raffle fundraiser. The Boosters have four tickets for the Oct. 14, Patriots versus Kansas City Chiefs football game at Gillette Stadium, with transportation included. The tickets are $100 apiece and once again can be purchased by emailing Paquette at

“In addition on Oct. 20th we’ll host the Boosters Bash, a fundraiser/auction night at Tedesco Country Club,” Paquette said.

Details for that will unfold on the Booster’s website as they become available.

Lastly, for businesses, the Boosters will also be selling 3-foot by 5-foot banners to hang around Piper Field.

“And all the proceeds will go directly to the fitness center,” Paquette said.

Paquette said if all they raise is the $100,000 she is confident they can get the construction completed, upgrade the electrical and bring in basic equipment and phase in the rest.

Raising the funding is only part of the challenge however. When it comes to a weight room renovation, changing perceptions will entail almost as much work. It’s also why calling the space a “fitness center,” is key, Paquette said. The goal is to make it available and accessible to all students, she said.

The weight room is used namely by the football team, along with a handful of runners and the girls soccer team. Creating a fitness center is about making the room appealing and accessible to all students, which means adding more than just weights.

Paquette was quick to note that they will not be getting rid of all the weight lifting equipment. While some weights are rusted, bent or simply too heavy for students, other pieces are in great shape, she said. The plan is to enhance the weight area by adding smaller weights along with cardio equipment and stretch bands.

While it seems like a short window of time to get a lot done, Paquette said this project has been a year in the making and she believes they can hit their marks.

“And let’s say we’re fortunate enough to raise more funds than needed,” she said optimistically. “There are always more than enough projects.”

To donate directly to the Boosters Raise The Bar Campaign and see your dollars double, go to: