OAKHURST — The spirit of giving was predominant as teachers and school representatives convened by request to celebrate one of the year’s highlights: Sierra Oakhurst Kiwanis Mini-Grants for education.
Local Kiwanis and others gathered on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at El Cid Mexican Restaurant to give and receive money in support of projects and products that help mountain area students.
Eighteen recipients were awarded a total of approximately $10,000, in this fifth year of giving mini-grants. The funds distributed are raised through the Kiwanis’ annual summertime car show, Run for the Gold. Major sponsors for that event include Sierra Tel, Sullivan’s Tire Pros, Fresno Lexus, Donaughy Sales, Yosemite Bank, Grocery Outlet, and Coarsegold Car Care. In addition to the major sponsors, a host of individuals and businesses contribute to Kiwanis events throughout the year, including their Pancake Breakfasts.
At the December meeting, as usual, “happy dollars” were given over to Kiwanis by people in the crowd to commemorate life events — from joy at being with children and grandchildren, to teachers grateful that vacation starts this week. At least one “sad dollar” was provided due to President John Lassos’ absence from the festivities due to illness. Members were thankful that President Elect Steve Ham was there to help.
Past President Bob Spinelli noted that our Kiwanis friends are looking for more help this year on the car show: volunteers of time and labor are needed and will be appreciated.
The Sierra Oakhurst Kiwanis club meets every Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. at El Cid in Oakhurst. The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019.
Closing out 2018 on a high note, Kiwanis’ Vicki Burkhalter took to the podium to announce the recipients of this year’s mini-grants.
- Oakhurst Elementary School (OES) Principal Kathy Murphy was present to accept a grant to fund the purchase of three copies each of five Week of Words (WOW) books for 266 students in K-3rd grade to read and hear, and ultimately vote for one. These books encourage reading of popular literature among young people.
- Oakhurst Elementary School (OES) Ed Coach Robin Ward received a grant for the purchase of headphones and headphone storage so that all students in class, every year, have their own headset to use with their Chromebooks.
- Wasuma Elementary School, OES, Oak Creek Intermediate Tech coordinator Kris Barnes received funds to purchase six Sphero programmable robots, about the size of a softball and waterproof, to support the STEM-based computer science program for approximately one thousand students district wide.
- North Fork School, Spring Valley School, Hillside Elementary, Chawanakee Academy Teacher Bill Samuelson received a grant to continue the purchase and repair of musical instruments for the growing Chawanakee band program for the benefit of all band students in the district.
- Wasuma Elementary School Teacher Leslie Peterson received funding to pay for a muralist, paint and supplies to create a “Positive Affirmation” mural which involves the entire school, including staff, students, parents and community.
- Chawanakee Academy Teacher Talitha Musacchio’s project was funded to purchase books for the school library, making the books available to all 275 students enrolled in the school.
- Chawanakee Academy Teacher Becky Cairns asked for and received a grant to pay for cordless microphones for the school’s ongoing drama program, which benefits the school population and the community.
- Chawanakee Academy Teacher Cynthia Elm received a grant to purchase ten Turing Tumble models, which she described as a physical manifestation of how computers work, for 168 students in grades K-8.
- Spring Valley School Teacher Kim Boatman requested and received funds to cover the costs associated with expanding the school’s drama and art program. This is the fourth year that Kiwanis have funded the program at the school, for all students in grades K-8.
- Wasuma Elementary School Teacher Cecelia Oetinger received a grant to purchase inflatable discs for balance, strength and fitness in PE, and comfort in the classroom, for the daily benefit of about 100 students in middle school.
- Chawanakee Academy Teacher Heather Rossen received funds to purchase supplies to hatch trout in the classroom and release back into the environment, for about 100 students in the K-8 science lab.
- Chawanakee Academy Ivonne Trejo was given a grant to make tetherball available for home-schooled students.
- Coarsegold Elementary School Teacher Mindy Gresham’s project to purchase kinesthetic learning materials for interactive learning, to benefit thiry-plus students in special education.
- Chawanakee Academy Principal Rhonda Corippo was given a grant to buy two STEM kits for the benefit of 168 students in grades K-8.
- Rivergold Elementary School Teacher Robert Martin was granted funds to purchase “Pocket Lab” date equipment used for experiments and activities related to velocity and acceleration, for 120 students in 7th and 8th grade.
- Chawanakee Academy Teacher Nicole De Maio was awarded a grant to buy Little Bits options, magnetic STEM building blocks with electric currents and circuits, for K-8 enrichment students.
- Mountain Home School Teacher Joyce Vind received funds to purchase ten sets of Right Start Math to reinforce fundamental math concepts for 40 students in 4th and 5th grade.
- Wasuma Elementary School Teacher Elaine Alger was given funds to purchase three sets of eight Boomwhackers with CDs and lesson books for a unique introduction to music, to benefit 20 students in 4th grade, and all other students, as well.
Kiwanis was founded in 1915 and today has over 600,000 members and 15,000 clubs that serve in 90 countries around the world.
“One of the goals of Kiwanis is to enhance the community and the best way to do that is to enhance the children,” members of the organization believe. “When you give a child a chance to learn, experience, dream, and succeed, great things will happen. The needs of children are the number one priority at Kiwanis.”