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Stray Dogs, parents show support at Big E fundraiser

By Nolan DeGarlais, Hawkeye staff

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Stray Dogs perform at the fundraiser for the 13th consecutive year.

The Big E Ales pub in Lynnwood hosted a fundraiser for the MTHS Grad Night scholarship fund on Saturday, May 20. MTHS families and community members 21 and over could come have dinner from 6 to 10 p.m. at Big E Ales while supporting the MTHS senior class by contributing to their Grad Night fund, which goes through the organization Grad Nights. Admission was $20 at the door or $15 in advance, which included one free drink and appetizer once inside.  

Grad Nights hosts Grad Night celebrations for graduating senior classes, including the celebration for the MTHS senior class. Grad Nights prides itself on offering safe and exciting Grad Night experiences that graduating seniors will remember long after their graduation.

The MTHS Parent Teacher Student Association began to coordinate this fundraiser with Big E Ales 13 years ago as a way to ensure that every senior who wants to attend their Grad Night celebration will not be excluded due to their financial situation. Seniors who wish to apply for a Grad Night scholarship must apply through the office, which will provide every senior who would not be able to regularly afford a ticket to Grad Night will be able to afford one with the help of Grad Night scholarships.

Big E Ales has been hosting these fundraisers for the MTHS Grad Night fund for the past 13 years. Through the years, the idea of the fundraiser has remained relatively the same. It is an opportunity for the community to gather and socialize, listen to live music, participate in both a live and silent auction, participate in a 50/50 raffle and enjoy the foods and drinks offered by Big E Ales. Above all, it is an opportunity to raise money for the MTHS senior class’ Grad Night scholarship fund.

The fundraiser has a history of bringing in large amounts of money for the senior class. Some fundraisers have raised almost $60,000 for the Grad Night fund, with the auctions generating the most money.

The live auction happens all at once, with some of the auctioned items including 21 bottles of wine, which were sold for $200 and a $50 Visa gift card. All auction items were sold by the end of the fundraiser. The silent auction takes place throughout the night as customers write down their bids on items such as preseason tickets for the Seahawks and VIP seats at the graduation ceremony.

Stray Dogs, Principal Greg Schwab’s band, has performed at Big E Ales for the fundraiser all 13 years it has been put on. The band has always played a central role during the fundraiser and their performance always adds to the liveliness of the event. Despite Schwab leaving his position of principal to become the assistant superintendent of the Edmonds School District (ESD), he still plans to have the band perform at the fundraisers.

“The audience always finds it interesting to see the principal play in a band at a school fundraiser,” Schwab said.

Stray Dogs was formed in Leavenworth in 2004 by Schwab, who sings and plays guitar, along with two other ESD employees, Todd Christensen, who also sings and plays guitar and Dennis Burkhardt, who plays the keyboards and fiddle. They met during their first year of working for ESD and discovered each other’s passion for music. The band has since come to include lead guitar Gene Yamishita, drummer Joe Lindblad and Don Witek, who sings and plays the bass.

The band was named after the dogs the guitarists owned and they have went with the name Stray Dogs ever since the band’s founding.

“The name just kind of stuck with us,” Schwab said.

Since their founding, the band has played in locations all around Seattle and Edmonds, including the Lake Forest Park Community Club, Murphy’s Pub, Rivershark Pub, Johnny’s Sports Bar and Grill, Hansville Community Center and Anchor Pub.

Stray Dogs plays some original songs, but they often choose to do covers of a wide variety of other music, including songs by the Rolling Stone, Pink Floyd, Johnny Cash, Jimmy Buffett, the Grateful Dead, Neil Young and the Beatles.

Some of the songs Stray Dogs played at the fundraiser include “867-5309/Jenny” by Tommy Tutone, “Already Gone” by the Eagles and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison.

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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.
Stray Dogs, parents show support at Big E fundraiser