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Foundation Nets $25,000 For Schools

Five projects get money

A $25,000 cash infusion will fund programs helping approximately 680 White Salmon Valley School Students in the coming school year. That's thanks to the White Salmon Valley Education Foundation (WSVEF), who this week named recipients of the group's second round of bi-annual funding.

"It's one of our goals to impact as many students as possible," said WSVEF President Ronda Crumpacker. "Many of these programs won't just help kids next year. They're designed to continue impacting a growing number of students into the future."

Five projects from a pool of seven will receive funding this cycle, with science, civics, and after school programs all getting a boost. White Salmon Valley Schools Superintendent Dale Palmer, who is also an Advisory Member of WSVEF, said, "I'm pleased with the allocation of funds, and the wide variety of programs, technologies, and opportunities which will be available because of this. And it's not just the kids that will be helped. Teachers will become more familiar with the use of these technologies, and will be able to incorporate them into long term plans."

Many people in the area are familiar with the beneficiary of this round's largest cash award. Henkle Middle School's Project Open Door (POD) will receive $8,640. POD is a stand-alone after-school program developed to assist the students of Henkle Middle School. It is supported by public and private funds, as well as grants. The WSVEF grant funds will go to development of the "Media Corps", a student group which will develop the POD website, including interactive blogs. Participants will also collaborate with the City of White Salmon Centennial Committee to produce and publish blogs of local oral histories, creative works, and poetry collections.

The Physical Sciences classes at Columbia High School will get a big boost in hands-on lab investigation. WSVEF will provide $5,977 for the purchase of three science kits, which will allow students to actually conduct experiments during class, rather than simply watching teacher demonstrations. The components of these kits are simple enough for introductory physics or chemistry, yet sophisticated enough to prepare students for the equipment they'll use in higher education or technical careers.

The "Votermorphosis" program will engage 12th graders at Columbia High School in defining what democracy means to them. Ask most of them what "democracy" means, and the word "vote" will usually end up in their answer. But a democracy is much more than voting, and this program will help voters-to-be to understand the concept more thoroughly. The $3,850 award will be used to create a rich, statewide web-based network of young people, for young people, using materials, perspectives, and opinions created by young people. "Votermorphosis" will expand teens' understanding of what it means to be an active, engaged, and responsible member of a democratic society.

The UN Teen Relief Project is an integrated unit in cultural and physical geography which will become part of the 7th grade social studies curriculum at Henkle. This project groups students into teams whose mission is to provide effective assistance to teenagers in the poorest nations of Africa. Each team determines the most effective means of allotting $1 billion in aid to a specific nation, with a focus on health and educational issues. Students then present their findings to a panel of community volunteers, who take on the role of screening entity. This project will receive $3,115.

"The Votermorphosis and UN Teen Relief projects are programs kids are going to remember for a long time," said Palmer. "It's going to benefit them, and our society, into the future. Not just by getting them to vote, or by telling them about other nations, but by developing an in-depth interest in the events and cultures of our society, and the world around us. That's a lot of impact on a lot of kids!"

Leveling the Earth is the final grant recipient. It will receive $2800 to purchase equipment for ESL classes in US and World History. Students will build web pages to allow others to follow the footsteps of immigrants over the years of US history. They'll track routes of Spanish Explorers, Lewis and Clark, and others during the westward expansion of the United States. The curriculum will also include written narratives. Ryan Kreps, a recent graduate from CHS, who runs his own technology company called RADComp will provide instruction in the use of Google Earth to track students' family experiences, reflect on their present lives, and finally make a plan for their future. Students will create Podcast narratives of their own histories for others to hear, including their families and community members.

A review committee comprised of two teachers, two community members, and one board member had the challenging task of awarding the grants. They used an objective scoring criteria developed by local educators and WSVEF members.

The WSVEF works with the school district to support and complement existing, district-led initiatives in all the local schools. Grants totaling $25,000 are awarded bi-annually. Programs funded are those that will enrich school curriculum and elective offerings; support staff development; and create education, business and community partnerships.

Said Palmer: "So far the WSVEF has provided $50,000 the school district couldn't afford. We've been able to implement exciting programs that otherwise wouldn't be possible. We're very thankful for the money from the WSVEF, and the generous support from our community."

"Thanks to the outstanding generosity of our community, we can do our part to help enhance our local districts curriculum," said Crumpacker. "And with continued community support, we hope to be able to increase the level of support the WSVEF can provide to our local schools."

The 501(c)3 non-profit organization incorporated in April 2006.

For more information, or to make a donation, go to www.wsvef.org or call 493-1175.

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