For the fourth year in a row, Ravenscroft's student-led fundraising team for Crucial Catch has been recognized as the top fundraising school in the nation, exceeding their goal of $30,000 by more than $6,000, and once again winning the prestigious Pink Cleat Award.
Connecting and Collaborating
Parent Groups Build Relationships and Promote Ravenscroft’s Excellence
By Janice Lewine | Back to Table of Contents
Ravens Athletic Club: Victory Through Volunteerism
With more than 10 state championships and dozens of conference titles in the last decade alone, Ravenscroft athletic competitions are some of the most spirited in the Triangle. Each year, more than 80% of Middle and Upper School students participate in sports, a testament to Ravenscroft’s outstanding program and its coaches.
While the school has definitely had its share of cheering fans over the years, alumni parent Frances Penick remembers a time when school spirit wasn’t as visible. Determined to get more parents excited about athletics, she and two other mothers — Ginny Barnett and Christy Peyton — tooled around the athletic fields in a golf cart, selling Ravenscroft spirit items and branded water bottles. Their hard work paid off, as attendance at games increased, and in 2003 a new volunteer organization was born to help support the school’s Athletic Department: the Ravens Athletic Club, known familiarly as RAC.
The long-running Golf Classic, held at North Ridge Country Club, raises money for RAC’s many initiatives in support of the school’s athletic programs.
Many of those spirit items now grace the concession stands at every home game, and Penick couldn’t be prouder. As RAC’s first president, she worked with other parents to help create the club’s bylaws and mission: to support all aspects of athletics through school spirit, good sportsmanship and volunteer commitment. Through the years, volunteers have helped staff major tournaments, manage concession stands, organize pep rallies and senior recognition ceremonies, and host the annual Homecoming celebration and the Ravenscroft Golf Classic at North Ridge Country Club, which raises money to enhance and promote the school’s athletic programs. “I’m in awe of how the parents have taken our vision forward,” Penick said of RAC’s growth and success.
Ravenscroft’s longtime Athletic Director Ned Gonet has worked with RAC since its infancy and praises its volunteers. “As an athletic program, we want to put our best foot forward for our visitors, for our fans, for our community and be the best we can be,” he said. “RAC volunteers make sure we’re doing things in a first-class manner, and I think that’s what Ravenscroft is about.”
RAC concessions volunteers such as Ingrid Bennett and Karen Gring, shown in 2018, bring enthusiasm and spirit to their work.
Recent projects have included adding signage to the Middle School gym, organizing Spirit Week and raising $50K to renovate and re-equip the A.E. Finley Activity Center’s weight room in 2019. This year, the group contributed $30K toward the school’s purchase of PlaySite, a platform that will livestream most of the school’s sporting events — a boon for families and fans during the pandemic but also an outstanding long-term investment for the program. As Chief Information Officer Jason Ramsden explained, PlaySite is also able to show instant replays, keep score and compile practice footage.
In this clip from the Oct. 22, 2020, Ravenscroft Athletics livestream, the varsity boys soccer team scores an overtime goal against Wake Christian Academy, clinching the conference championship.
That’s not the only silver lining from this challenging season. RAC President Jane Hamlin noted that the group has put extra effort into recognizing athletes and promoting programs. “We made signs for all the senior football players and cheerleaders for the first home games, since only senior parents were allowed to be there then. It was a nice way to recognize the kids,” she said.
This kind of volunteer commitment is an enduring one. Many RAC officers, such as past president Kim Mathan, continue to be involved in RAC after their tenure ends — some even after their children have graduated. “We’re willing to do whatever it takes,” Mathan said.
Left: Edgar the Raven, the school’s popular mascot, greets Lower School students at carpool.
Right: RAC volunteers enjoy a meal in the A.E. Finley Activity Center before setting up for the Homecoming dinner in 2018.
Above, Homecoming — one of the most visible displays of school spirit, shown here in 2012 — is one of RAC’s signature events.
Want to get involved with a parent group? Check the school’s master calendar for Zoom meeting dates and links, and read the dedicated “Parent Involvement” section of the Ravenscroft Weekly for information and updates.
Faculty and staff discuss the impact of parent groups on our school and community.
Ravenscroft Magazine, Summer 2019