Avon Lake City Schools Foundation Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Former Avon Lake Board of Education President, Dave Updegraff; retired Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Clayton Dusek; current Board of Education President Charles Froehlich and Avon Lake City Schools Foundation President Millicent Simmelink.

Former Avon Lake Board of Education President, Dave Updegraff; retired Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Clayton Dusek; current Board of Education President Charles Froehlich and Avon Lake City Schools Foundation President Millicent Simmelink.

Congratulations to the Avon Lake City Schools Foundation (ALCSF) for supporting the school district for 30 years. The Foundation is celebrating its 30th anniversary this fall and will be recognized with a special resolution during next week’s Board of Education meeting Aug. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Avon Lake High School Media Center, 175 Avon Belden Road.

“On behalf of the Avon Lake City Schools Foundation, we are truly honored to receive a resolution from the Board of Education recognizing the incredible efforts of so many people over the last 30 years who have believed in and supported the value of educational enrichment opportunities for our students,” said Millicent Simmelink, president ALCSF. “We would, especially, like to recognize the early leadership of Avon Lake’s former Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Clayton Dusek, past Board of Education President, Dave Updegraff, and the first President of the Avon Lake City Schools Foundation, Marcella Ridenhauer, for their tireless collaboration and foresight.  We wish to acknowledge the innovative thinking and enthusiasm of our dedicated teachers and others who have sought funding for educational enrichment opportunities that take learning to new levels.  We are excited about the Foundation’s future and what we, as a community, can do together in the next 30 years to further enhance our district’s wonderful tradition of excellence.

The mission of the ALCSF is to provide funding for enrichment opportunities in the school district that go beyond the state funded curriculum.  The Foundation is committed to supporting and enhancing the Avon Lake City Schools for the benefit of all school age children enrolled in the district.

The ALCSF was started as a result of an initiative in the early 80s to create funding for the types of enrichment activities that teachers would like to undertake but are outside the scope of the general school budget. It was created in partnership with the Lorain County Community Foundation, which was the first community foundation in the United States to establish endowment funds for school districts. Superintendent Clayton Dusek (now a Professor of Education at Baldwin Wallace University) worked with other Lorain County Superintendents on this effort.

On June 10, 1986, the Avon Lake School Board, led by President Dave Updegraff, unanimously approved the formation of the Avon Lake City Schools Foundation. The ALCSF spent its first seven years building an endowment through grants and donations and earning interest. It awarded its first grants, totaling $1,185, in the spring of 1994 for the 1994-95 academic year.

This past May, the ALCSF awarded $12,456 in grants for the 2016-17 academic year.

Grants are funded by using a percentage of the interest from the two ALCSF endowment funds (General Fund and Fine Arts Fund).  In addition, in 2012 an annual 10 Campaign was introduced to provide immediate grant funding for targeted enrichment objectives. The 10 Campaign asks families and other interested donors to contribute $10/student in a household (or a greater amount if possible).  Technology related enrichment has been the focus to date.

In addition to grants, the ALCSF gives out annual scholarships. For the past 16 years, a scholarship named after former Avon High Lake High School Principal BJ Walker has been awarded to a graduating ALHS senior majoring in education. In 2016, the Foundation began representing the Ford Motor Company in selecting four outstanding seniors intending to major in a STEM discipline in college to receive Ford Motor Company scholarships.

In its 30 year history, the ALCSF has awarded over $246,470 through 310 grants and 21 scholarships. Grants have been awarded for programs in academics, the arts, and the enhancement of social and emotional skills. Some examples of grants given include:

  • Buddy Benches and a Peaceful Playground Project promoting kindness.
  • A Sensory Relaxation Room for Developmentally Challenged students.
  • Piloted use of iPads which has now been incorporated into the curriculum district-wide.
  • Commissioned choir pieces that involve students working directly with composers.
  • Funded the first ActivBoards (interactive white board systems) which are now in every classroom.
  • Creation of clay tile murals at the four elementary schools plus Troy Intermediate School as part of a diversity awareness program.
  • Materials to help develop the 9/11 Garden of Empowerment, located at ALHS, as an outdoor cross- disciplinary classroom and community education space.
  • A program titled “Classic Drama for the Middle School:  Learning How to Handle Conflict through the Arts”.
  • Supplies for an innovative educational program that integrates science and art titled “Glass Fusing:  Art and Science Combined” that impacts approximately 100 4th graders each year.
  • Creation of an Orchestral strings program, which is now a regular part of the music curriculum including two orchestras at the High School.
  • Computerized Molecular Modeling in the Chemistry Lab.
  • Ohio Birds of Prey Live Animal Assembly (inspired by the Redwood eagles).
  • Pilot for the Summer Stars Reading Intervention Program.
  • Clay Recycling Center for art classes.

The ALCSF relies exclusively on private donations to grow its endowments. The principal is never touched and only a percentage of the annual interest earned is used for grants.  In addition to donations, the Foundation receives funding through special events. The Sale By the Lake is an annual craft fair held in early May.

This fall the Foundation is hosting the inaugural Back to School 5K is scheduled for Sept. 18. To register, go to hermescleveland.com/roadracing/calendar/july2016.asp.

Future goals of the ALCSF include the following:

  • To raise community awareness about the Foundation’s role in providing funding for innovative educational enrichment opportunities throughout the District and the benefits received by students.
  • To continue to grow the principal of our two endowment funds.
  • To encourage more innovative grant proposals that ignite a passion for learning while holistically preparing youth for the challenges of a rapidly changing, technologically driven global economy.
  • To continue growing and nurturing school-community relationships that support the Foundation’s vision that enrichment enhances excellence.
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