McFeely-Rogers Foundation

McFeely-Rogers Foundation

“Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor?” These are just a few of the famous words in the theme song to the popular children’s television show, “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.” Fred Rogers cared for every child’s education when he exhibited through his television show over 50 years ago. Rogers went a step further in 2000 where he began his planning to help current and future students to gain the same benefits as children’s media through the McFeely Rogers Foundation. “Staying true to the vision of Fred Rogers, and emulating the guiding principles of his life’s work, the mission of the Fred Rogers Center is to advance the fields of early learning and children’s media by acting as a catalyst for communication, collaboration, and creative change,” according to fredrogerscenter.org.  

The McFeely Rogers Foundation began in the early 1950s in the Latrobe community to support local entities in places such as Legion Keener Park. This foundation has been very active in the community since it first started with the community’s support of the arts. For about 25 years, Greater Latrobe School District receives annual grants from the McFeely Rogers Foundation to support cultural programming in grades K-12. The foundation strongly believes in the school district’s three “A” principles: Academics, Arts, and Athletics.

The McFeely Rogers Series, a part of the foundation, benefits primarily on the students within the junior and senior high school. The grants given to the school district from this series began five years after the Fred Rogers Center was built in September 2003. Five years ago the McFeely Rogers Series was renamed Greater Latrobe Arts Series (GLAS) for students in K-12. $9,000 is donated to the district by the McFeely Rogers Foundation for GLAS, which funds artists in residency involving creative arts. An Arts Symposium is held at the Center for Student Creativity for all third graders within the district through GLAS. Students spent the entire day experimenting and learning a variety of art forms such as puppet making, water colors, and Asian art forms which was this year’s theme.

Junior and senior high teachers coordinate artists- in- residency to visit their students to enrich them with a particular art form. This year, Mrs. Balko’s ceramic students were given the opportunity to experience the process of Raku firing. Jim DcDowell, a potter from Pittsburgh, visited all Ceramic II students on March 29 and 30 to introduce this new technique. He returned on April 19, 20, and 21 to perform the Raku firing to all of the students’ five pots. This method is different from the typical firing of clay that ceramic students are used to. In Raku firing, the pots are coated with crackle glazes and removed from the kiln at their maximum temperature causing the glaze to fracture, a process called Crazing. In the post firing of the Raku pots, carbon is embedded into the crackle glazes, forming a unique finished look.

The Performance Series is also a part of the McFeely Rogers Foundation, coordinated by the Center of Student Creativity, which brings in creative art performances for Greater Latrobe students to enrich everyday learning through musical or artistic performances. Each year the McFeely Rogers Foundation donates $4,500 for the Performance Series.  In 2010, David Farmerie, photographer, was funded through these series and visited journalism students in the CSC for an all day experience. He shared his life journey and experiences that made him so successful today through his passion for photography.

James Ragan, funded by the Performance Series, visited Greater Latrobe Senior High School twice so far this year. He first met with AP Language and Composition classes in the CSC at the beginning of the school year. Recently, he spoke with English and Journalism students to speak about his passion for words and poetry. He began his speech with his childhood and spoke about all of the eye-opening opportunities he has faced while following his dream. Ragan taught these students to always say yes to opportunities and to follow their passions in life. “James Ragan had so many interesting stories to share with us and I really enjoyed listening to him,” says junior, Jocelyn Stas.

The McFeely Rogers Foundation donates altogether $13,500 to Greater Latrobe School District in order to support cultural programming through grades kindergarten to twelve. Giving students the opportunity to learn and develop new artistic skills as well as listen to inspirational speakers is important to this foundation. The McFeely Rogers Foundation cares about student education and allows every individual in the Greater Latrobe School District to grow academically as well as artistically.