Stone Brewing Company Sells Special Beer To Help Southwest Licking Schools

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An international brewing company might have saved a handful of extra-curricular activities at a local high school.

For 16-year-old Ally Jeffers, band is more than sheet music and notes. It's an escape.

"Band's been like my safety zone, forever," she said. "I was picked on as a kid. It was my safe zone."

When that safe zone was threatened with being cut last spring at Watkins Memorial High School, it was Jeffers who stepped in.

"I told [my mom] we got to save these programs," she said. "We can't just let them go. I can't just sit here and do nothing."

But how do you get, or better yet demand, the attention you desperately need?

That's when Jeffers realized she needed to tap the potential of Greg Koch.

Koch is the CEO and co-founder of Stone Brewing Company. He's a native of Pataskala and former student of Watkins Memorial High School. He also shares a similar story to Jeffers.

"I was the odd guy out," Koch said. "I was the one everybody picked on and made fun of."

Jeffers wrote Koch a letter.

"I read it, [and thought]...what do I do with this?" he said. 

The letter asked him to get involved. Koch says he wanted to, but wasn't sure how. Then, it hit him.

Koch agreed that if the levy passed he would create a limited edition brew, Pataskala Red IPA, for the city of Pataskala and the voters that helped make the approval possible.

In May, the school levy that had been shot down in recent years got the vote of approval.

A celebration took place Wednesday night at Ziggy's Bar and Grill. Koch flew in from San Diego to be a part of it.

Jeffers also attended the event, as well as her family and many members of the Watkins Memorial High School family.

Watkins Memorial Band Director Robert Davis knows without Jeffers he wouldn't have his band and he wouldn't have his job.

"I work here because the levy passed and our program is here because the levy passed and because our community chose to support programs like band," he said.

All made possible because a high school freshman took initiative and stood up for what she believed in.

"I wasn't going to lose the one thing that I had in school that...we all fit together...it wasn't a struggle or constantly worried about being judged...it was a safe place," she said.

Koch says his company filled 32 kegs of the new brew. Every dollar raised from the sales of Pataskala Red IPA will go directly to help programs, like band, at Watkins Memorial High School. He estimates that should be around $25,000.