The Cherokee Board of Education and School District Administrators listened to an overview of recent contributions from two valuable and dedicated organizations closely aligned with the District and its goals, at Monday night's Board management Team meeting at Washington High School.
The Board took the opportunity provided by the meeting to fete the Cherokee Education Foundation and R.J. Thomas Manufacturing of Cherokee - through the years, two generous contributors to the District for materials, equipment, and related items not budgeted for, all geared at helping Cherokee students and faculty achieve.
CEF Secretary J.C. Cook addressed the Board and Administrators, explaining the genesis of the CEF, which was officially incorporated in 1985 and hosted its first major fund-raising Benefit Dinner in November, 2004.
Cook said the first dinner netted an estimated $8,000 for the District's needs, and last year's netted $15,000. "We've had some wonderful people step up and answer the call," said Cook, an eloquent Cherokee attorney. "The proceeds from the meal and silent auction (associated with the dinner) seem to be growing, and for that we are thankful to this community.
This year's CEF Benefit Dinner and Auction (both silent and live) are set for Friday, Feb. 25 at the Cherokee Community Center. A bountiful prime rib dinner will be served, and the CEF will provide free beer, wine, and pop for $30 per ticket, proceeds benefiting the CEF's efforts.
Cook explained that the CEF currently manages an estimated $330,000 in endowments ultimately benefiting the District.
Among the many contributions to the District to date include computers, laptops, and a wide variety of electronic equipment for all three school buildings (WHS, Cherokee Middle School, and Roosevelt Elementary); SmartBoards; funding NASA trips; various after school and summer programs; field trips; microscopes; recreational equipment; lab kits; DVDs and players; classroom instruction materials; projection equipment; PE Dance System; Jazz Band uniforms; countless text books; chairs and tables; new chairs in WHS Auditorium; accelerated reading materials, etc.
The CEF communicates with faculty and staff to help determine needs and then sees those requests through, explained Cook. Through May 2010, total staff requests equaled an estimated $40,000, with the CEF contributing an estimated $24,000 in addressing those needs.
Current CEF officers are Sue Parker, President; Charlie Leissler, Past President; Cook, Secretary; James Mohn, Treasurer; District Superintendent Dr. John Chalstrom; School Board President Laura Dawson; Andrea Cook; Laurie Gerstandt; Tim Greenwood; Susie Haselhoff; Arlene Hultman; Marlin Lode; Joyce Lundsgaard; and Darren Zwiefel.
The Board also heard from Steve Thomas of R.J. Thomas Manufacturing, a major contributor through the years to the District and to the Cherokee community.
"Our roots are so very deep here. We love Cherokee," said Thomas. "We're successful and this community is one of the reasons, so we have no problem putting something back into this community."
It is no secret that the Thomas family continually supports many community and School District causes "behind the scenes" and will continue to do so.
Currently, R.J. Thomas has contributed $10,000 towards a new digital lighting system in the WHS Auditorium. The District will fund the rest of the $35,000 project through PPEL monies, according to Chalstrom.
The existing Auditorium lighting system was renovated in 1972, but the original 1952 fixtures are still in use. Auditorium floor repair is also currently being explored, said Chalstrom.
Cook also advised the Board that R.J. Thomas continues to be a major supporter of the CEF "in many, many ways."
"We can't say enough about all the great things you do for our students and teachers and this entire District," said Chalstrom to the CEF members and Thomas. "The work you do and the many times you step up to support the District is greatly appreciated by everyone. You are two very important entities who support the District in words and actions."