“Did we get it? Oh, my gosh! We got it! We got it!”
The drama in the hallway of Athens Middle School played out much like the famous giveaway episodes of Oprah’s talk show. And, in fact, a giveaway is exactly what took place throughout several campuses Monday morning as a cheering, bell-ringing, bull horn-waving crew of Athens Public Education Foundation members and Athens ISD administrators joyfully handed out $22,800 worth of foundation grants to educators.
When science teacher Angela Saine stepped out of her classroom to see what the ruckus was about, her face lit up, and she clapped with joy. Before being told, she suspected the grant she and two other middle school teachers had applied for was being awarded – a hunch that was confirmed by the presentation of a giant mock check in the amount of $3,000. Saine and fellow grant applicant Shara Leonard hugged one another and literally jumped for joy. Saine, Leonard and fellow teacher Kassi Harris will use the grant money to give students a day of hands-on, outdoor science instruction at Camp Tyler.
Stunned, happy faces were a recurring sight as 10 individual grants were gleefully awarded at Athens Middle School, Athens High School, Athens Intermediate and to the high school’s Pinnacle Club program.
“Seeing the excitement not only of the teachers, but the students as well is so satisfying,” said Sarah Grey, vice president of programs for the Athens Public Education Foundation. “Enriching and assisting the educational experience in our schools are the reasons we created the foundation, and if more people in our community could see how much it means for our schools to get this kind of support, I truly believe more would give.”
The foundation is a philanthropic organization created for the purpose of enhancing educational opportunities and student success in the Athens school district. A volunteer board works to raise the funds to be used to award grants.
“I can’t say enough good about the foundation and the people behind it,” said AISD Superintendent Dr. Fred Hayes. “The foundation is, I think, civic involvement at its best. The board members truly want nothing more than what’s best for the children of this community and their teachers.”
This latest giveaway was the second grant cycle since the foundation got on its feet – the first cycle having taken place this past spring.
“We’re working toward a long-term investment in our schools and therefore our community,” said Grey. “It’s natural to want to see immediate benefits, and in some cases that’s possible. But it’s also important that we be far-sighted.
“We’re doing some things today that we may not see the benefits of for some time to come. And that’s OK, because making a positive impact on students’ lives will eventually benefit us as a whole community.”
Of course, every time grants are issued, the need to refill the coffers is great. The next major fund-raiser for the Athens Public Education Foundation is the “Second Chance Prom,” to be held at the Athens Country Club on Feb. 26. The event is open to the public, and tickets are $50 each. Board members hope to raise more than $10,000 to give away.
And if a Second Chance Prom isn’t your cup of tea, but you still want to support the foundation, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at athenspef.org.
The following is a list of grants awarded Monday.
At Athens Intermediate School: $1,600 for “Strengthening Core Concepts” to Nikki Mason and Kim Storey;
$1,300 for “Math Master Minds” to Lynda Taylor;
$3,000 for a “Weather Bug” to Alejandro Guzman and Moises Sanchez;
$1,400 for “Texas News” to Jodie Babb;
$3,000 for “Rockin’ to Success” to Becky Rogers and Bridget Scott
At Athens Middle School:
$3,000 for an “Outdoor Science Camp” to Angela Saine, Kassi Harris and Shara Leonard;
$2,600 for “History Alive” to Kelli Miller, Joshua Burk and Juliann Foster;
At Athens High School:
$3,000 for “Death at Your Doorstep,” (a forensic science program) to Staci Phillips and Dinita Heitz;
For Athens High School’s Pinnacle Program:
$900 for “SAT Vocabulary Novels” to Tony Sikes;
$3,000 for “Graphing TI-84 Calculators” to Lauren Bartlett and Phyllis Gannon.
APEF spreads joy with grants
“Did we get it? Oh, my gosh! We got it! We got it!”
- Local News
Volunteers now needed for Athens Soup Kitchen
Athens resident Terry Mayhall walked through the doors of the Athens Soup Kitchen asking if he could just volunteer. Mayhall now spends his Thursdays cooking soup for people who are hungry.
Athens Soup Kitchen, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The mission is to feed those who are hungry. The facility that feeds 30 to 63 people weekly, opened its door in March 2014.
Coston named chamber president
After a diligent search, the Athens Chamber of Commerce Board has named Mike Coston president.
“The chamber board selected a search committee, which consisted of Chamber members, community leaders and business owners,” Ashley Adams McKee, Chairman of the Athens Chamber of Commerce Board, said. “Our committee knew that we wanted to take our time to find the most qualified person to serve as our new president. We had more than 10 applicants and in our first round of interviews we were all equally impressed and excited about Mike's experience and passion for chamber business.”
Update on restaurant projects given
City of Athens officials gave an update on some ongoing projects and financial information at a meeting on Wednesday.
Director of Planning and Development Gary Crecilius said progress on the Cotton Patch Cafe has slowed considerably with the discovery of a possible environmental hazard. The restaurant is being constructed east of the Walmart store on East Tyler Street.
HCPAC announces ‘Mattress’ sales
Why would HCPAC be selling mattresses? Actually, the “mattresses” are tickets to “Once Upon a Mattress,” which opens Thursday, Aug. 7.
The 26th Annual Youth Summer Musical stars 24 very talented area students, ages 10 through college, and tells the “fractured fairy tale” version of the “Princess and the Pea.”
Gearing up for Celebrity Waiter event
The Rotary Club of Cedar Creek Lake is gearing up for its annual Celebrity Waiter event. The Celebrity Waiter committee met on Thursday to discuss last minute items. The event is scheduled for Saturday, August 9 at Athens Country Club. This will be the 18th year the CCL Rotary Club has hosted the fundraiser. For ticket information call Erin Osborn at 903-887-7486.
Paul Harris recognition
Rotary of Cedar Creek Lake President Erin Osborn presents Rotarian Bill Burnett with his second Paul Harris recognition. Rotarians are given a Paul Harris recognition when a Rotarian donates $1,000 or more to the fund outright. Benefactors receive a certificate and insignia to wear with a Rotary or Paul Harris Fellow pin.
Sanders suspended indefinitely
Two University of Texas football players were arrested and charged Thursday with felony sexual assault after a female student said she was raped in a campus dorm room last month.
Wide receivers Kendall Sanders, of Athens, and Montrel Meander were arrested and later released on personal recognizance bonds. According to an arrest affidavit, Sanders and Meander texted each other during earlier interviews with police to "get their story straight" and Sanders also faces a charge of improper photography tied to the alleged assault on June 21.
Thunderstorms take their toll on counties
A line of thunderstorms rolled through Henderson County on Wednesday, snapping tree branches and power lines along the way.
The winds that accompanied the storm resulted in thousands of people in North Texas without electricity and roads broken by falling trees or debris.
Council considering Burton's severance package
The Athens City Council, by a 3-to-2 vote, tabled a budget adjustment on Wednesday to fund a severance package for City Administrator Pam Burton who’s stepping down at the end of the year.
Eustace ISD approves tax rates
The Eustace Independent School District Board of Trustees held its regular monthly meeting Tuesday in the Eustace High School Library.
Several reports and agenda items were considered by the board, and all were passed or approved. Board Secretary Ashley McKee was absent.
The board was presented with the superintendent's reports on revenue, expenditures, payroll and taxes.
- More Local News Headlines
- Volunteers now needed for Athens Soup Kitchen