The Pryor Times

Local News

October 16, 2010

Singing star saves school

ADAIR — Country music superstar Reba McEntire responded to a financial S.O.S. from a member of the Spavinaw School Board.

Guy Alloway serves on the school board and he knew first hand that the school was in trouble.

“In September, we were in pretty bad woes,” Alloway said. “We didn’t have any money to speak of. We were short $60,000.”

With no carryover reserve from the previous year, the school was collectively holding its breath awaiting news of state and federal cuts. The news wasn’t good.

“Like so many other schools, we’re facing financial difficulties because of the cuts,” he said.

Money the school had was gone when several major necessary purchases emptied the coffers.

“For instance, we had to buy a new air conditioner,” Alloway said. “It cost $5,500, but we had to have it.”

Typically, schools face those kinds of things in September and August, when buildings that have been vacant for several months are once again in full operation, he said.

“It was just this, that and the other,” he said. “But the state and federal cuts really did hurt us.”

Alloway knew the school was in danger.

“We were facing the very real possibility that at some point we might have to close the school,” he said.

Not one to give up, Alloway began to think of anything he could to help. He began compiling a list of names and organizations that had money.

“I started emailing people,” he said. He contacted general phone numbers or email addresses for the Mickey Mantle Foundation, Warren Buffett, and T. Boone Pickens to name a few.

“I just kept going down the list. I called numbers for Oprah and Bill Gates,” he said. Alloway wouldn’t give up. The list grew. Garth Brooks. Carrie Underwood. Still nothing.

“I was on number 28 or 32, you know, you just lose count. I had no reasonable expectations of success, but you just keep on,” he said. Then he dialed a general number for native Oklahoman and country music icon Reba McEntire and he knew things were different.

“The guy on the phone had the same name as mine, so we instantly connected,” Alloway said. “It was just great getting to speak to someone. I asked him if he had Reba’s ear.”

The man, located in Tennessee, told him that he did see Reba pretty often.

“I told him what the deal was; that we needed some money and we needed it fast,” he said. The man told Alloway that if it was only 10,000 or 15,000 he could probably have it to him that day.

Alloway was shocked, but knew that would only amount to a band-aid on a broken arm.

“You know I was looking for $60,000,” he said. “We were 60 in the mud.”

The two men began emailing regularly. Phone calls followed.

“He called me and asked me several more questions,” Alloway said. “Then he called and told me that if I didn’t get something in the mail within around five days that I needed to let him know.”

Alloway knew then that something was happening. Something big.

“I knew, but I didn’t want to tell anyone what was going on because I didn’t want to jinx it,” Alloway said. “But at the same time, I was really wanting to tell everyone.”

A few days later, the school received a check for $60,000. Also in the envelope was an additional anonymous check for $1,000.”

 “I called the guy back and told him what an amazing act of kindness had just occurred,” Alloway said. “I told him I wanted to tell everyone and give her the credit she deserves. I wanted people to know that her Oklahoma spirit still lives.”

Wanting to downplay her role, McEntire’s only request was that the focus would remain on the school, and not her.

“He told me that for her, it’s about sharing God’s blessings,” Alloway said. “She wants us to pass the kindness on.”

Things have changed at Spavinaw Schools.

“We are caught up and now the tax receipts are beginning to come in,” he said. “I believe we are going to be okay and even have more of a reserve going into next year.”

For now, the entire student body of about 135 are planning to write thank you cards to send to Tennessee.

“He told me that he would make sure she got them,” Alloway said.

Amazed at the whole experience, Alloway said he knows God had his hand in it.

“God works when we can’t,” Alloway said. “It was important to do all we could to save the school.”

Reading from one of the many emails between the two men, Alloway came to the reason he gave for his efforts.

“You kill the school and you cut the heart out of this little town,” he wrote.

With the help of an S.O.S. from a man who will no doubt be a star in Spavinaw, the Okie superstar with small town charm and a man who answered a phone in Tennessee, the future of Spavinaw Schools is bright. Like a star.

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