With continuing state aid cuts adding to the difficulty of financing the basics of education, it’s hard for school districts to even think about funding any extras. So a few years back, concerned parents formed the Highland Educational Foundation. Inspired by the success of similar groups in neighboring districts, the organization formed as a nonprofit with the purpose of raising funds to give students additional opportunities, enriching their studies and enhancing their overall school experience.
The group’s major fundraiser is the SnowBall dinner dance and silent auction held each winter. The fourth annual SnowBall will be held on Saturday, February 20 from 6:30-11 p.m. at Novella’s in New Paltz. Tickets cost $65. Beer and wine along with soft drinks, coffee and tea are included with dinner and there will also be a cash bar available.
The first SnowBall raised more than $11,000 toward the adaptive playground equipment (for children with disabilities) at the elementary school. In its second year, the SnowBall raised funds to benefit the middle school; they replaced the tattered stage curtains in the cafeteria and they purchased a garden shed and equipped it with tools and supplies to start the middle school garden. Last year’s event, held in partnership with the school district’s Highland Music Booster organization, raised money to purchase choral risers that are used by students at all three schools. This year, all proceeds from the SnowBall will be applied toward the purchase of robotics for the elementary, middle and high school.
Funds are raised at the event through table sponsors, a raffle and 50/50 drawing and the silent auction of items donated by local businesses. And the Highland Rotary Club always kicks off the fundraising with a generous donation; they’re giving the educational foundation $1,000 this year. In addition, the PTAs of the elementary and middle school and the PTSA at the high school have agreed to collectively donate funds to purchase a small robotics kit to auction off at the event.
The focus on robotics at this year’s SnowBall will mean a few small robots on hand along with someone from the technology department of the district to demonstrate their capabilities. “We’re trying to create some excitement and interest for the program in our schools,” says Superintendent Deborah Haab.
Since the Highland Educational Foundation is a nonprofit organization supplemental to the school district and not an official part of it, Haab cannot hold a seat on its board, but she and Assistant Superintendent Sarah Dudley-Lemek serve as its advisors. “We go to their meetings and brainstorm with them,” says Haab, “and try to do whatever we can to support them.” The president of the foundation’s board is Carole CrimiVarole. She is assisted by fellow board members Elizabeth Hammond, Heather Welch and Kendra Minard.
The SnowBall is always a lot of fun, Haab says, with music provided every year by volunteer deejay Reginald Osterhoudt. There is dancing, and the event brings community members together, she adds, with all the proceeds directly benefitting the students. The dinner is served buffet style, with choices including chicken, beef, fish and pasta.
Additional volunteers for the SnowBall are always welcome, as are table sponsors for the event. To learn more, contact Superintendent Deborah Haab at (845) 691-1012. More information is also available by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.