Leaving a Legacy
McClatchy senior gets students involved in campus life
By Jessica Laskey
Colette Lonchar is a senior at C.K. McClatchy High School who takes her legacy seriously.
To encourage more students to participate in the Parent Teacher Student Association, she started a scholarship program to pay membership fees. She calls it the Ulrich Oldham Legacy Fund, named for her grandmother and great-grandmother.
“The PTSA controls so many different elements of campus life,” says Lonchar, who joined as a sophomore after the group invited her to sing the national anthem at National Night Out. “Becoming a part of (the PTSA), you can make direct contributions to budget plans, talk about day-to-day social life at school, how we can improve, what we can invest in. That’s why I want more students to get involved.”
Lonchar’s connections to her school and community go back generations. In the 1930s, Lonchar’s great-great grandmother Leonora Trethowan bought the Land Park house where the family still lives.
Her great-grandmother, grandmother and mother grew up in Sacramento. Her grandmother, Joan Ulrich, and great-grandmother, Esther Oldham, attended McClatchy. With deep roots in the neighborhood, Lonchar feels “it is my turn to give back to the community that my family has been a part of for so long.”
Lonchar has been involved in many school activities, especially theater, for all four years of high school. She performed with Young Actors Stage and Musical Mayhem Productions. But it was McClatchy’s Humanities and International Studies Program that helped her connect a love of performing with community advocacy.
“HISP is all about studying the different aspects of society and the world and the local community,” says Lonchar, who is directing the school play this year and plans to write and direct films that expose social ills. “It opened my eyes to everything that goes on in our world.”
Tasked with selecting a senior project, Lonchar decided to use her people skills and ability to see the big picture to help fellow students feel more invested in the campus. She realized two big barriers to student PTSA participation are membership fees and the meeting schedule.
“Since they’re held at night, it’s hard for a lot of families to get to,” she says.
The Ulrich Oldham Legacy Fund helps remove those barriers by holding fundraisers as a nonprofit to offset membership costs and offer scholarships for students. Lonchar formed a PTSA Club on campus to gather feedback and relay ideas to the PTSA. Her efforts won support from the student body and administration, including Principal Andrea Egan.
“I want students to have a bigger voice and feel they’re represented,” Lonchar says. “If you’re not involved in any of the programs on campus like HISP, you can feel lost in the crowd. By being part of the PTSA, students can get involved in grad nights and committees and hold leadership positions to feel stakeholdership, which will increase equity within the school.”
The fund has raised $10,000, which Lonchar says could cover at least 1000 student PTSA members. The money comes from fundraising events such as Night Under the Stars, which Lonchar held in her backyard. The event attracted 80 attendees who enjoyed live music by the McClatchy band and a silent auction of items donated by local businesses.
While Lonchar plans her future—she hopes to attend college in Southern California to be near the film industry—she’s eager to make sure the fund lives on. She will personally donate and hopes to pass on leadership to the next McClatchy generation, just like her great-grandmother and grandmother did for her.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.