Area schools are vying for your votes to help get the money they need to improve their schools, but you only have until Dec. 19 to help.
Thanks to Clorox Company’s Power A Bright Future program, three Matthews schools and other schools throughout the region are among about 2,500 schools nationwide competing for a $50,000 grant to help improve their campus. Both Elizabeth Lane and Crown Point elementary schools and Socrates Academy are participating in the program, which gives students more chances to play, create and explore by awarding seven different grants—four based on votes and three based on merit. The nomination with the most amount of votes overall taking home the $50,000 top prize. Six schools will be awarded $25,000 each.
Power A Bright Future encourages all kinds of activities, from academic to extracurricular, and provides opportunities for schools to help students grow and develop.
At Elizabeth Lane Elementary School, they’re taking a different route with their project. Kicking off a Lego Club at the school just this year, Assistant Principal Dina Modine says the club is already in need of more supplies. And there’s a long-term goal to connect the club with robotics.
“We would take the money to buy Legos for our Lego club,” Modine said. “The club is run by strictly donations, but in order for the club to be successful, you have to have supplies. We’re trying to keep the club free because we want everyone to be able to participate.”
The club’s first semester just wrapped up, hosting about 25 students throughout. But next semester, starting in January, Modine says club leaders are expecting the number of students to double to 50—but without enough supplies, it could slow the learning process down.
But Legos are just the beginning to their big picture plan.
“Ultimately, we would like to have a Robotics Club (where students) use their Lego knowledge for building robots,” Modine said.
But a Robotics Club is a big undertaking, Modine said, because of the high price tag for robotics kits. One kit costs about $1,000.
“It’s really hard to get it started because it’s so expensive. Our kids are more than capable of doing it. Out fifth-graders are working on catapults right now,” Modine said.
And because the clubs are in line with new math and science Common Core curriculum, Modine said the school also would like to spread and share the program with their sister school Thomasboro Academy. But without proper funding, that could be several years down the road, she said.
For Socrates Academy, the eight-year-old charter school is looking to provide better resources for its students as the school works to grow their middle school, parent Mike Karras said. Karras is a member of the Socrates Foundation, a nonprofit that works to raise money for the school’s needs, and helped submit the nomination for the Power A Bright Future grant. If Socrates won the grant, the money would help install a new science lab at the school.
“When we started off, we were just a kindergarten through fifth-grade school, but we later extended our charter to middle school,” Karras said. The school just incorporated eighth grade for the 2012-13 school year, with nearly 50 students. “But as we grow, we need more dedicated space besides rolling carts. If you’re doing experiments, you might need sinks or Bunsen burners.”
The grant would not only buy supplies for the science lab, but also would help foot the bill for the large amount of furniture required. With needs for a teacher workstation and several student workstations, Karras said the furniture bill itself could range from $20,000 to $30,000. Some money also may be needed to help ensure the lab is equipped with the right plumbing for sinks.
“Extra funds will go to odds and ends to help get the room up and running,” Karras said.
As a charter school, the school has to raise a majority of the funds on its own. That’s why Karras said it’s essential to have the community’s help when it comes to voting.
At Crown Point Elementary School, they’ve spent the last several years working to update their school’s technology, adding SMART Boards to classrooms as the money comes along. But someone from their school nominated them for the Power A Bright Future grant to help fill the rest of the classrooms with the new technology.
Rita Josiah, the dean of students at the school, said Crown Point started adding SMART boards from the top down — all six fifth-grade classrooms now have the boards, five fourth-grade classrooms have them and one third-grade classroom has a board. There are also SMART Boards in the school’s media center and computer lab. But Josiah said the school has more needs.
“Because of 21st century learning, children need to be exposed to the technology—I mean the children can actually write right on the SMART Board and stuff like that,” she said. “I just think it would be an awesome thing if all our children could be exposed to a SMART Board.”
Modine and Karras both said their schools kicked off the competition with a strong voting campaign, but as time goes on, it seems voting has dropped off, so along with Josiah, they’re encouraging parents, teachers and community members to jump in and help their schools make it to the top.
As of the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 28, Elizabeth Lane was ranked number 341 in the Create category, Crown Point was ranked number 1,509 in the Explore category and Socrates Academy stood at number 404 in the Explore category, so all three schools need your help.
People can find more information on the grant and vote once a day online to Powerabrightfuture.com. You also can vote via text message.
To vote for Elizabeth Lane, text 560pbf to 95248, text 439pbf to 95248 for Crown Point and text 2255pbf to 95248 for Socrates Academy. Message and data rates may apply.