Save the Coshocton Planetarium group seeking donations

| May 9, 2016

COSHOCTON – The Committee to Save the Coshocton Planetarium is reaching out to the public to help raise money to make the planetarium an instrument that can be enjoyed by students and the community.

Their goal is to raise $400,000, but they need at least $200,000 to get the planetarium back to the way it was when it was located at the former Central Elementary School. The other $200,000 would go toward upgrades.

“The school board approved the planetarium coming to the high school and room 412 was selected for it,” said Ron Derewecki, a retired Coshocton High School science teacher who is working with the Committee to Save the Coshocton Planetarium. “Our original timeline was to start work in June so we had all summer to work on renovations, but we don’t have the money yet to do that.”

The Montgomery Foundation recently awarded the project $50,000, which brings their total amount of money raised to $197,000 if they get $75,000 that should be allocated to them from the capital budget of the state.

“We do have an architect,” said Derewecki. “Frank Weaver is a Coshocton High School graduate who works for a firm in Columbus that is experienced at working with older buildings and structures. Once we have the final drawings for the planetarium and the state approves them the school board can put out bids for the work.”

Derewecki was planetarium director from 1971-2002 and said the planetarium was purchased through a grant written in the 1960s. The instrument is still capable of being used, but needs updated to today’s technology. They also would like to make upgrades such as adding a full dome projector and more seats.

“The $200,000 will get the planetarium back to where it was, but if we don’t get all the money we will have to cut back on the upgrades,” Derewecki said. “We’ve been going on the Internet looking for foundations that could help and just checking all different kinds of avenues for donations. We’ve gotten around $3,000 from individuals and community members, but people still don’t realize we are doing this.”

People also don’t realize that the planetarium is about a lot more than seeing the stars.

“We can build on their knowledge and excitement about science,” Derewecki said.

It’s not just about science either. Spelling lessons can be built around it for younger students, there can be art projects or even literature assignments created out of a visit to the planetarium.

“You don’t have to buy a program for the planetarium either,” Derewecki said. “You build programs for each grade level based on what is being taught in the classrooms.”

He also wants people to know that Coshocton is very lucky to have a planetarium.

“Today they are fairly rare to have especially around here,” Derewecki said. “I believe Lancaster has one and St. Clairsville had one, but took it out.”

Coshocton High School science teacher Jason Kodysz is excited about getting the planetarium up and running.

“I have a background in astronomy and can think of ways the planetarium can be used in a number of classes especially physics and chemistry,” he said.

Kodysz’ new astronomy club at the high school also is looking forward to the planetarium.

“I’ve been talking to my students and there is a lot of interested in this,” he said.

Once the planetarium is up and running in its new location, Derewecki said who would run it and if it would be open to more than just students in the City of Coshocton would be up to the school district, but there is a possibly that the other districts could have access to it.

To make a donation to the save the planetarium project, make checks payable to: Coshocton Business Development Foundation and on the memo line write planetarium fund. They can be mailed to: Save The Coshocton Planetarium, P.O. Box 1517, Coshocton, OH 43812. There also is a GoFundMe account setup.

To stay up to date on the fundraising process and the quest to get the planetarium up and running, visit facebook.com/groups/savetheplanetarium.

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Category: Education

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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