Breaking News
  • April 22Last Day of School May 22nd
  • April 22ALHS Commencement May 17th
  • April 22Coffee House: May 8th
Albert Lea High School Newspaper


Albert Lea High School Newspaper


Albert Lea High School Newspaper


Basketball Fundraiser In Honor of OJ

ALHS hosts a Fundraiser for the Orrie Jirele Scholarship.
Photo Submitted
Most of the players, organizers and volunteers who helped raise money for the Orrie Jirele Scholarship pose with his signature in the school’s gym. The Night of Fun basketball fundraiser was on March 1st. Sophomores beat the Juniors 84-40. The staff pulled out a last minute win against the Seniors 52-51.

On March 1st, in the gym bearing his name, a fundraiser was held for the Orrie Jirele scholarship, which was able to raise approximately $2,800. Orrie Jirele, also known as “OJ”, was a counselor for 28 years and a boys basketball coach for 14 years here at ALHS.

Students got an email that allowed them to sign up and participate in the fundraiser by taking part in the teams and becoming a player. The event hosted various basketball games at different times, where the Albert Lea community could come in and pay to see them. The matches varied between grades; 8th graders went against Freshman and Sophomores against Juniors, both of which were held at 6 p.m. 

The Seniors vs. Staff game was held at 7pm, where the staff came out as the victors. Max Jeffrey, one of the night’s organizers, participated in the Seniors vs. Staff game, and one of Jeffrey’s most memorable moments of the game was when Mary Bissen, choir teacher at ALHS, scored a three-pointer. 

“She was very nervous since she was the only female who was on the staff team,” said Jeffrey. “But when she made that, her face lit up. If Orrie saw that, he would have shot up from his chair, cheering.” 

Different activities were also held during the games: lightning competitions, half-time court shots – both of which required money admissions to participate in – and 1v1 competitions. There was also a raffle and the winner donated the prize money back to the scholarship. Among these activities were halftime performances by the Albert Lea Dance Team who danced with volunteer male students for their routine and the other was a toddler cheerleading team who performed a cheer routine that included thigh stands. 

The idea of the scholarship was first brought up when the gym was renamed in OJ’s memory. Jim Haney, another one of the fundraiser’s organizers, also helped establish the scholarship. The path to creating it was smooth as the school board, athletic director and the principal all were on board to making this scholarship a reality. 

Jeffrey and Haney describe Jirele to be a person who was always kind and caring, always checking up on everybody. Going to ALHS to check-in or simply to talk to staff and students, going to classrooms or stopping them in the hall. 

“When he was talking to you, you were the most important person, in his day, in that moment and in that time, nothing else mattered,” said Jeffrey. 

Orrie Jirele was part of two community orchestras. He would play his violin at ALHS staff Christmas parties, even after he retired. He also played at his church during mass and at weddings.

“I think he’s just a great spirit,” said Haney. “He was the epitome of what a good person should be, someone concerned, and passionate, and someone that just did something extra to make someone feel important. I feel if we had that around, everybody would be a little bit better off.”

Haney and Jeffrey wanted to thank some people who helped make the fundraiser night possible. 

“We want to thank Jasmine Hanson, she had her baby that week, and she did a lot of organizing for Jeffrey and I,” said Haney. “I also appreciate the players who came on Friday night.” 

“We also thank the administration team,” said Jeffrey. “Mr. Dibble, who played, that was good to have. The custodians as well.” 

More to Discover