By Maria Wyllie
Explore Big Sky Staff Writer
BIG SKY – Friends of Big Sky Education is taking a new direction as it completes its first decade.
Founded in 2004, the nonprofit organization led community efforts in establishing a high school in Big Sky. Lack of a local high school previously forced families to either move out of the area, purchase second homes in Bozeman, send their kids to boarding schools, or send them on the long bus ride twice a day, thus prohibiting them from participating in extracurricular activities, according to Anne Marie Mistretta, FOBSE Board Director and Vice President/Secretary.
After a study conducted in 2005, it was evident that FOBSE – comprised of a group of parents committed to improving secondary education in Big Sky – needed to take the lead, said Mistretta, who also served as superintendent for the Big Sky School District from 2005-2010 (then called Ophir School District).
Since Lone Peak High School’s establishment in 2009, FOBSE’s mission has become more focused on supporting the arts in Big Sky.
“Friends of Big Sky Education historically has always been ready to move in whatever direction we’ve felt was the most pressing need in the community, and initially that was the school,” said FOBSE President Loren Bough. “Now that the school is up and running and successful, we looked around and thought about what the next thing is we can do to support the school.”
Once the high school opened, the group’s work became more focused on supporting programs and projects at the school. Many members felt FOBSE had completed its mission upon forming the high school, making it difficult to obtain a quorum at meetings.
Consequently, FOBSE is transitioning from a member corporation where all representatives receive votes, to a board corporation where only board members can vote. All others interested in maintaining membership will be considered advisory members, Mistretta said.
Moving forward in 2014, the group will now act as the parent organization and nonprofit entity for the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center, located on the school’s campus, and is also starting a high school scholarship initiative.
“[FOBSE] has oftentimes [worked] behind the scenes with a tremendous amount of hard work from many loyal community members,” Bough said. “We’re proud of the work we’ve done and look forward to a successful future.”