The Youngstown State University English Festival, now in its 35th year, welcomes its 100,000th student this spring and is marking the occasion with a $100,000 fund-raising campaign.
At a campus news conference today, festival organizers launched the public phase of the campaign with hopes of reaching the goal this spring or summer.
“This year, on our 35th anniversary, we really want to reconnect with the thousands of students and teachers who have been touched by the English Festival – not only to ask them to consider making a donation, but also to share with us their memories,” said Gary Salvner, festival co-chair.
The three-day festival, one of the most successful and enduring annual events in YSU’s history, annually attracts 3,000 middle school and high school students to campus to discuss books, meet authors and participate in writing competitions.
The campaign has raised $52,456 so far. Lead donors include Bruce and Nancy Beeghly, long-time supporters of the university, and Bege Bowers, retired YSU associate provost and English professor. Other major donors are: Salvner; Scott Schulick, vice president-investments for Stifel, Nicolaus and Co. Inc. and a member of the YSU Board of Trustees; the Gay Family; and Rick Shale, YSU English professor emeritus.
“The English Festival is truly a celebration of reading and writing that has touched the lives of countless young people across the region for more than three decades,” said Nancy Beeghly, a member of the Festival’s advisory board. “I am always thrilled to see students cheering for one another at the Festival.”
Beeghly, Bowers and Schulick joined Salvner and festival co-chair Jeff Buchanan at the news conference. Also in attendance to share their memories were four individuals who participated in the festival in their youth – Schulick; Jennifer Walker, language arts supervisor for the Mahoning County Educational Service Center and a former Ohio Teacher of the Year; Carlee Tressel, who earned degrees from the University of Chicago and Hamline University and is now writing works for young adults; and Angela Messenger, coordinator of YSU’s Writing Center and a member of the English Festival Committee.
This year’s Festival, scheduled April 17 to 19 on the YSU campus, will surpass the 100,000 mark in number of student attendees. Over the years, students have come from more than 300 middle and high schools, from Leetonia to Lordstown, West Middlesex to West Branch and Kentucky to Michigan. The Festival, started in 1979, has earned its share of national recognition, including the Intellectual Freedom Award from the National Council of Teachers of English.
Salvner said the fund-raising campaign will establish an endowment to support ongoing operations of the festival. For more information or to make a donation, contact Shanna Blinn in University Development at 330-941-3119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.