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Phone-a-thons raise bucks for Gresham-Barlow district


Funds used for reading programs, other school activities

The Gresham-Barlow Education Foundation has donated $100,000 to the Gresham-Barlow School District to fund reading programs in its elementary schools.by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO -  Alex Albrecht, left, and Luke Palau, students at Deep Creek Elementary School, work on their reading skills together. Proceeds from the Gresham-Barlow Education Foundation´s annual phone-a-thons helped make it possible for the Gresham-Barlow School District to purchase a new reading program for its elementary schools. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Foundation Board President Vicki Moen presented a check to Superintendent Jim Schlachter and District Board Chairman Dale Clark at the board’s Oct. 4 meeting.

Foundation funds have been used to purchase a reading curriculum as well as support programs for struggling readers and defray costs associated with educational assistants staffing reading programs, foundation and district officials say.

Victoria Alley, foundation director, notes the group has raised a total of $320,000 for the district over the past six years, through its annual phone-a-thons. Those funds have been used in part to help the district’s 11 elementary schools purchase Literacy By Design, an innovative reading program, according to Athena Vadnais, district spokeswoman.

Elaine Luckenbaugh, principal of Hollydale Elementary School, says Literacy By Design is “a very strong reading program for kids” that incorporates vocabulary, phonics, spelling, comprehension and elements of science and social studies.

“It puts more books in the hands of kids,” she says. “We have enough books for every child to be reading the same book in a group setting.”

In addition to providing support for reading programs, the phone-a-thons have raised money for such high school student groups as the Barlow High dance team and Gresham High track team, Alley says. Springwater Trail High School has used foundation funds to help pay for its prom, she adds, and other student groups use the money for class projects and field trips.

“This is the way we can support the district where they truly need it,” Alley says, noting her daughter attends Barlow.

“We feel so supported by the education foundation,” Luckenbaugh adds.

Last February’s four-day phone-a-thon utilized 288 student callers as well as board members, parents and other school district supporters, Alley says. The volunteers call private residents — primarily school parents — as well as businesses and other groups each year to ask for donations, Alley says.

She says the 2013 phone-a-thon will take place Feb. 25-28. She also credits Bess Wills, general manager of Gresham Ford, as well as Mark Garber, president of Community Newspapers and Outlook publisher, “for their many years of continued support and assistance” to the foundation’s fundraising efforts.

The foundation formed in 1994 to assist the schools of the district in providing the “best possible educational opportunities for its students.”

“The foundation plays a critical role in helping the district realize its mission to prepare every student for success,” Vadnais says.