The Class of 2009  will be the first to graduate from UC Merced. Naturally, this dynamic group of students wants to leave behind a legacy that will echo down the generations, speaking to the future of their pioneering spirit, sense of community, leadership and foresight, while serving as a foundation onto which future classes can build.
With these criteria in mind, the graduating committee voted unanimously that an amphitheater will make the ideal class gift.
The future Little Lake Amphitheater is the brainchild of senior Matthew Lyons, who came up with the idea after looking at some of the other suggestions floating around out there.
“A sundial, covered tram stops … none of them seemed very pioneering,” Lyons said. “I was an apathetic high school student, but I chose UC Merced because I was sold on the pioneering spirit. As a history major , I wanted to make sure we left behind something more than clubs, more than pictures in a yearbook. I wanted our class gift to be permanent, tangible, and available for the entire community.”
The campus that Lyons has seen grow and change dramatically in the past four years still lacks a suitable place to host large community gatherings like rallies, poetry readings, concerts and theatrical productions.
The amphitheater will serve as a foundation that will grow and evolve over time, said Lyons. “It will provide an opportunity for future classes to continue that evolution by funding accoutrements like professional lighting, a permanent sound system, or landscaping.”
To lay that foundation for future Bobcat generations, the senior class has a lot of fundraising to do. To date, students have raised more than half of the money needed to meet their May 1 goal of $50,000.
The push is on in earnest. Led by Alumni  Coordinator Stefani Madril, members of the Class of 2009 have been focused on spreading the word.
“The Amphitheater Legacy Brick Campaign  is an opportunity for students, families, staff, faculty, community members to support us. In return for their donation, a brick will be laid on site with their family name or favorite quote on it,” said Lyons. “A brick at the amphitheater is something individual to point to in return for the donation.”