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J. Shane Mercer, Published July 15 2009

Trollwood receives $1 million pledge

Trollwood Performing Arts School has received a $1 million pledge from the Alex Stern Family Foundation.

Word of the gift came at a news conference on Tuesday at the new TPAS campus in south Moorhead, just a day before the school opens its first main-stage musical at its new site.

“It’s our largest grant, by far, by far, in the history of our foundation,” said Donald Scott, Stern Foundation executive director and trustee.

He said the Fargo-based foundation, which was founded in 1964, has always supported the arts and children. “This is a combination that we thought we could truly support,” he said.

The funding will go toward construction costs, said TPAS Executive Director Vicki Chepulis.

“Being happy and excited doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about the commitment, vision and affirmation that this gift reflects,” Chepulis said.

The relationship between Trollwood and the Stern Family Foundation has a long history. The foundation made its first grant to Trollwood in 1981.

Trollwood, which produced its first musical in 1978, also announced its “Match the Million” campaign. Organizers urge the community to match the foundation’s gift dollar-for-dollar.

As part of that campaign, individuals can purchase commemorative bricks with custom inscriptions that will be used to create yellow brick pathways at the new campus. That effort ties in with the history of the school. Trollwood’s first production at its former site in Fargo was “The Wizard of Oz.” This year, the school is performing “The Wiz,” an updated take on “The Wizard of Oz,” as its first show at the new campus.

Scott hopes the gift will prompt others to “step forth and support the project.

“We couldn’t pick a better organization to give it to,” he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734