PITTSFIELD — Maine Central Institute Headmaster Christopher J. Hopkins recently announced the school has received a $100,000 gift from the Brothers of Meridian Masonic Lodge of Pittsfield for MCI’s Founders Campaign. A check presentation was held on campus at the Visual and Performing Arts Education Center, in JR Cianchette Hall.

“We deeply appreciate the generous support of Pittsfield’s Meridian Lodge members,” Hopkins said in accepting the check, according to a news release from the school. “Over the past 17 years, the Masons have provided significant support for MCI capital campaigns, facilities, music and athletic programs. This new major gift to the Founders Campaign is a true testament to their commitment to our School, Board of Trustees, students, families, faculty and staff, who all join me in expressing our gratitude,” said Hopkins.

MCI celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2016. The Founders Campaign is the largest fundraising effort in MCI’s history, and is also the school’s first comprehensive campaign. To date, $4.5 million has been raised. The Founders Campaign goal is $6.5 million. The major gift from Meridian Lodge 125 will name the Choral and Piano Center in the new Visual and Performing Arts Education Center, in JR Cianchette Hall.

“Meridian Lodge 125 received its charter in 1865, one year before MCI was founded,” explained Stacey Fitts, a member of MCI’s class of 1980 and current Master of Meridian Lodge 125 A.F.& A.M. (Ancient Free and Accepted Masons). “We are proud to support the Founders Campaign with what is the single largest contribution we’ve made in our 151-year history.”

David Wright, president of the Trustees of the Meridian Lodge Charitable Fund and Past Master, described the significance of their gift.

“The Masons view MCI as the foundation of our community, where students acquire knowledge, self-esteem, and social responsibility to prepare them for life. Our gift to the Campaign demonstrates our belief in the School,” Wright said, in the release.

The gift from the Masons provided a substantial boost to the campaign, according to Norbert W. Young, Jr., president of the MCI Board of Trustees and a member of the class of 1966, according to the release.

“This is a tremendous contribution to MCI,” said Young, in the release. “The Board of Trustees is deeply grateful to the Masonic Fraternity for their amazing generosity. Over the years, the Masons have done significant work to support not only MCI, but so many other institutions in Pittsfield. Meridian Lodge 125 was a large part of my father’s life in Pittsfield during his career as a teacher at MCI from 1941 to 1973, making their support deeply meaningful to me personally. We salute their compassion and dedication to our community, and thankfully acknowledge their naming gift to the Founders Campaign,” Young said n the release.

The campaign supports four distinct areas — academics, the arts, athletics and endowment. Funds will support major renovations in Founders Hall, the original building on MCI’s campus, and the repurposing of the 58-year old JR Cianchette building to create a Visual and Performing Arts Education Center. Campaign contributions have already been expended to construct three new multipurpose athletic fields on campus. Work on Cianchette Hall began in January. The fourth area of the comprehensive campaign will increase the School’s $6.5 million endowment by $2 million.

The campaign was launched at MCI’s Reunion on Aug. 5, with the announcement of the school’s first $1 million pledge, and a major challenge gift. To date, 162 donors have contributed $4.5 million to the Founders Campaign. Gifts from individual donors are being matched dollar-for-dollar as part of the $500,000 Koester Family Challenge. Gifts totaling $331,578 have been matched thus far.

For information on supporting MCI’s Founders Campaign, visit www.mci-school.org.

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