“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
Theater director ends 25 years
Former owner of the Athens Review, Richard “Dick” Dwelle said it best: “There are so very many people who have made significant contributions to this community, but it would be difficult to find anyone who has had a greater impact for good on the youth of Athens than Dennis Gilmore.”
After 25 years as Executive Director of The Henderson County Performing Arts Center, Gilmore announced his retirement from HCPAC.
Chandler resident Tom Booth shot free throws for 24 hours to raise money for God’s Open Hands and a sports missionary. He overcame three surgeries to set a new record for shots made during the fourth annual Free Throws for Souls event held Friday-Saturday at Chandler First Assembly of God. He took 24,575 shots and made 15,750 for a 64 percent success rate. The goal is to raise more than $30,000 to donate all the proceeds toward missions work.
Kiwanis Pancake Day
The Athens Kiwanis Pancake Day started with a bit of uncertainty because of the weather, but ended with a steady stream of customers.
When the last griddle had been put away, the Kiwanis had served 1,525 customers, and raised over $20,000, before expenses.
Master Gardeners present giant check
The Henderson County Commissioners Court heard the annual report of a hard-working group on Tuesday.
The Henderson County Master Gardeners presented a giant check to represent the value of the volunteer work the organization performed in 2013.
Adopt a Bucket
As part of the activities surrounding the Color Fun Run for Water benefitting Hope Springs Water on March 22, participants will have the opportunity to adopt a bucket of water for the day for only $20.
The bucket is symbolic of those carried by mostly women and children in countries without access to clean water each day.
Citizens Academy coming
As a part of the City of Chandler’s ongoing effort to communicate information, provide transparency and promote citizen involvement, Mayor Ann Hall and the City Council established the Chandler Citizens Academy in 2013.
The first session was held April-May 2013, and was deemed a success by organizers and attendees.
A second academy is planned for 2014, with the first class scheduled for Tuesday, April 15.
Fighting for life
Family and friends have rallied around 20-year old Aaron Jenkins.
Three weeks ago Jenkins, a Mabank resident and former Trinity Valley Community College student, was diagnosed with liver cancer.
Aaron's Aunt Sheila Guill said, “He's pretty sick, but Aaron has a high pain tolerance and doesn't complain.”
Lake Palestine, Athens above levels, CCL close
Lakes Athens and Palestine are above their normal levels, while Cedar Creek Lake to the west still needs a good downpour to close the gap.
On Monday, when the average Texas lake stood at just 64.3 percent of full. Lake Athens had a reading of 440.06 feet, just above its average.
Three arrested for drugs
Drug offenses led to three Athens Police Department arrests over the weekend according to reports.
The first incident on Friday night resulted in the arrest of Joshua Paul Rogers, 25, for evading arrest and possession of a controlled substance. Rogers remained in custody on Monday, with bond set at $9,000 on the two charges.
County unemployment edges upward
Henderson County unemployment edged upward in January, falling between the state and national rates.
The January Texas Workforce Commission Report, issued on Friday, gave Henderson County a 6.1 percent reading, after a 6.0 percent rate in December. The national unemployment figure was 7.1 percent, while Texas enjoyed its lowest mark since 2008, 5.7 percent.
- More Local News Headlines
- Theater director ends 25 years