More than $15,000 for classroom grants was raised at this year’s South Whidbey Schools Foundation annual dinner and auction gala held May 21. According to Foundation Treasurer John Riley, it was one of the most profitable fundraisers in the nonprofit’s 20-year history, over which time it has provided more than $225,000 to fund teacher-requested classroom grants.
Attendees were escorted into the event by “Leader in Me” vested students from Caryn Ploof’s fourth and fifth-grade class, where they enjoyed performances by the Langley Middle School Jazz Band, poolside demonstrations by the South Whidbey Academy Underwater Robotics Club, and inspiring talks by teachers Bruce Callahan (5th grade) and Greg Ballog (high school science) and parting remarks by graduating senior Sophia Stoughton, who has been the student representative to the Foundation for the past two years.
There were also displays of Foundation funded projects, a thank-you to restaurants that participated in the “Dine Out Wednesdays for Schools” program, and another encouraging revitalization of the high school drama program.
Island County Commissioner Helen Price-Johnson (Dem), was in attendance and commented how grateful she is for the work the Foundation does to support teachers and build a strong community. George Henny, Co-CEO of Whidbey Telecom, and his wife Tonya were also in attendance. Henny spoke about what an honor it was for Whidbey Telecom to adopt the “Leader in Me” project under the Foundation’s “Adopt-a-Grant” program, and praised the Foundation for helping to build meaningful collaborative relationships between community and schools.
Jim Freeman, South Whidbey’s “Conductor of Fun” kept the crowd in stitches while deftly extracting bids exceeding face value for just about every one of the 18 live auction items, which included overnight stays around Puget Sound, Mariner’s tickets, a signed Felix Hernandez jersey, and a Georgia Gerber otter sculpture. District Superintendent Jo Moccia hosted the final event of the evening, a new game which gave participants a chance to win one of seven prizes, including the top prize of $1,000 in cash, by purchasing cards from a poker deck for $50 each. Following SWHS PTSA President Shelly Ackerman’s lead from the past two years, this year’s $1,000 winner, Kay Wiley, donated her winnings back to the Foundation.
Foundation President Chris Gibson ended the evening by thanking all those who participated, and in particular Gala sponsors – Heritage/Whidbey Island Bank & Lead4ward; wine donors – Comfort Wines & Clinton Foodmart, and all who donated auction items.
The South Whidbey Schools Foundation is a non-profit 501c3 organization dedicated to supporting innovation and excellence in the South Whidbey schools. Information about the various ways to support the Foundation, including a list of current projects available for adoption, can be found at the Foundation’s website: SWSFoundation.org.