Blue Valley West Father’s Club Shows Great School Support

By Dan Holdhusen, Grandfather of three graduates and one currently enrolled in Blue Valley High School

The Mission of the Father’s Club is expressed no better than by a group of hard-core dads at Blue Valley West (BVW) High School in Overland Park. BVW has had an incredible and active group of fathers that have been engaged in a number of activities and events as one of the first chapters formed since Father’s Club originated five years ago.

Blue Valley West Father’s Club Shows Great School Support Blue Valley West Father’s Club Shows Great School Support

What does it take to succeed?

A key catalyst of BVW’s success in living out the Father’s Club Mission in support of students, teachers and the greater community has been a constant stream of great leaders. The current leadership team consists of Clay Norkey, Kevin Saylan, Dan Viall, and Danny Mayer. As any outstanding leader understands, these four dads acknowledge they would be unable to accomplish anything without a multitude of dads who have been willing to step up for the good of the cause.

BVW’s leadership has capitalized on the energy and willingness of a large group of dads who have been willing to enthusiastically show up, roll up their sleeves, and, as the Father’s Club Mission Statement declares, “be intentional with their KIDS, with other DADS and within their COMMUNITY.” There is no better example of their intentionality than their sentinel activity to support school spirit and financial support: running the fall football concessions sales.

Father’s Club and football concessions!

Because all Father’s Club financial support is fund-raised, BVW must rely on donations and its own organized activities. A few years ago, the BVW’s chapter was asked by school administrators to assume the concessions sales for fall football games. Clay Norkey saw an opportunity to use this service to raise funds to help support the school. While other donations are used for dad-only activities such as social events and mental-health training, EVERY dollar raised by Father’s Club through concession sales is poured back into the school through a variety of Father’s Club initiatives and partnerships.

The Father’s Club just completed its fourth year of managing the concession sales. The first year occurred in 2020, when school activities were dramatically altered because of the COVID pandemic. Despite the challenges faced by BVW’s Father’s Club – with limited school attendance and restricted programming – the leaders solicited local donations of candy, snacks, and bottled water that they bundled into sacks and handed out to families as they arrived to watch their kids play. It was an attempt at normalcy in an abnormal world. The snack packs were free, but the fans responded with over $1,000 in donations!. The dad leaders knew that, despite that first challenging year, they were off to a great start.

The past three years of concession sales have been crisp, with sales increasing each year to help support BVW programs and events. In order for that to occur, it has taken a massive number of dads and an organizational effort that continues to grow and improve each year.

Blue Valley West Father’s Club Shows Great School Support Blue Valley West Father’s Club Shows Great School Support

The Nitty Gritty

Consider all the work and organization that goes on behind the scenes by West’s Father’s Club members to make this happen:

  • It takes 15-20 dads and sometimes their kids to staff the home concession booth for each BVW home game.
  • West’s Father’s Club also gives other school organizations the ability to raise funds for their own programs by staffing the visitor side stand, which mutually benefits the chapter by alleviating a staffing issue and the participating groups by providing a good return to fund their own initiatives. Cross Country, DECA, Debate, and the Dance Team have all stepped up so far, with others on a waiting list.
  • Volunteers are recruited through word-of-mouth, GroupMe, social media, the chapter’s email newsletter, school-wide principal emails, and announcements at other events. They use Sign Up Genius to ensure adequate coverage and many willing dads have enthusiastically come forward.
  • Enough volunteers are needed for each game for four “shifts” (pre-game prep a day or two before the event; set-up prep just prior to each game; first half through halftime; and halftime through final clean up.)
  • Many volunteers also “just show up” (a Father’s Club and BVW mantra). A lack of helping hands has never been an issue.
  • Dads often have their kids join in to assist with sales, which creates valuable and lasting memories for all. See this blog by Dan Viall, one of BVW’s leaders, which shares his heart-warming testimony of the bond it has created in his personal life with his daughter.
  • Sales inventory is, of course, not a small matter. A core group of dads coordinate, purchase, and deliver concessions for resale for each of the games.
  • The Father’s Club dads also collaborate closely with the school’s football staff who provide freshmen and sophomore players to use their muscle to move beverages and other inventory to where sales occur a day or two before each game.
  • In addition to the sales, the BVW dads distribute snacks to game officials and the flag crew during the halftime of each game, as well as complimentary sandwiches, snacks, and beverages to each official and key administrators following each contest.
  • The dads even established a new West tradition: The Hot Dog Toss! It’s a “signature moment” that has gained popularity at each game. The dads march down the track at the end of the third quarter and toss hot dogs and candy into the student section. The kids love it!
  • Procedures have been put into place that ensure proper handling and accountability of the proceeds before, during, and after each game. Funds are managed with top-notch integrity by the leadership team.

This is an abbreviated list of all the organization and effort by Father’s Club dads that goes into concession sales fundraising to support efforts and programs at Blue Valley West High School.

Blue Valley West Father's Club Shows Great School Support Blue Valley West Father’s Club Shows Great School Support

So, you ask, what is done with the funds raised by the BVW Father’s Club concession sales efforts? The answer: a plethora of remarkable things that support West’s students, teachers, and community, such as:

The Plethora of Remarkable Things

  • Leading numerous Fist Bump for Food (FB4F) events throughout the year to support the students, teachers, administrators, and others that are part of the BVW community. During a recent event, the Father’s Club handed out 1,000 donuts to encourage students during finals week.
  • Sponsoring teacher appreciation events such as faculty luncheons; an annual Faculty Family Night for teachers with burgers, dogs, snacks, and drinks during the spring sports-a-palooza when four or five events happen on campus at once; Morning coffees by bringing in baristas and portable coffeeshops for morning coffees, teacher and staff luncheons; and joining with the PTO to provide teacher-appreciation gifts.
  • Partnering with the Counseling Team to envision and dream up ways to support the work they do with and for the students.
  • Hosting The Jaguar Grill, where dads cook out, hang out, and play games with the students over extended lunch periods twice per year.
  • Awarding mental-health focused scholarships to deserving students who have demonstrated perseverance in the face of crisis and now share their stories in a way that increases awareness and reduces the stigma of mental-health issues, and engaged in other mental-health initiatives for improving, raising awareness, or reducing the stigma of mental-health issues. In 2023, a total of $2,500 in scholarships were awarded to five worthy graduates.
  • Hosting an annual informational night at the beginning of each school year (an event promoted by the school-wide newsletter, Jaguar Journal) to introduce new dads to the Father’s Club and suggest ways they can become involved. This year, fifty dads showed up!
  • Organizing and hosting other “social” events for dads throughout the school year to build camaraderie, connect with and support each other, and even discuss additional ideas of how the Father’s Club can produce innovative ideas or improve existing ways to build on and improve existing efforts.
  • Periodically meeting with school administrators and student leaders for mutual encouragement and to learn how Father’s Club can best serve the BVW community
  • And much, much more.

By being intentional in raising funds with its concession sales efforts and in a variety of other ways, the Blue Valley West chapter dads display the Father’s Club Core Values that have made its mission work vibrant and thrive. Awesome.

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