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December 13, 2010

Prize patrol on the move

APEF spreads joy with grants

Athens — “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 or visit their website at

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.

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