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Annual Benefit For Oakdale Schools Slated
OHS musicians Charles Wong, left, and John Jeffers strum a little before plugging into amplifiers provided by grants from the Oakdale Educational Foundation. The OEF has also provided grants for classroom technology, microscopes, books, and more. - photo by Dawn M. Henley/The Leader

In its effort to enrich the educations of students in the Oakdale Joint Unified School District, the Oakdale Educational Foundation is holding the “Music ‘n’ Motion” fundraising event on Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Oakdale Golf and Country Club from 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Proceeds from this event benefit students throughout the school district through the form of grants awarded to teachers to purchase special programs and equipment. The cost to attend the event is $125 per person and includes dinner prepared by OGCC Chef Dan Quint and his staff, live music and dancing, as well as spirited live and silent auctions. Cocktail attire and “dancin’ shoes” are suggested.

According to Leesa Gagos, who is co-chairing this year’s event with her husband Mitch Gagos, over the past eight years, the OEF has provided more than $600,000 to enhance the educational opportunities for students and tools for teachers in the Oakdale school district.

“Education is in unprecedented times in regards to budget and the importance of outside fundraising to maintain and support educational programs,” said OJUSD Superintendent Marc Malone. “We are very fortunate to have the support of OEF. They are a very benevolent group that truly maximizes the dollars they generate for students.”

Last year, the OEF was able to fund every approved grant request. Leesa Gagos said that the teachers have submitted their grant requests for this year and those requests are currently under review. She added that this year the teachers’ grant requests total more than $100,000 – the highest amount to date. She added that the OEF is typically able to raise approximately $100,000 each year and if they can raise more, they can do more.

“We will work to fund every approved grant. We always try and do that,” Gagos said.

OEF’s fundraising efforts have financed grants to the OJUSD that have included equipping classrooms with technology improvements such as interactive electronic whiteboards known as Smart Boards, computers, United Streaming, and projectors. It has also helped fund the anti-drug and alcohol campaign called the Drug Store Project, field trips to the Gallo Performing Arts Center, the academic achievement and improvement program known as Renaissance, plus band and music equipment, art supplies, microscopes, research books, and more.

“The OJUSD is very appreciative of (OEF’s) work,” Malone added. “Our ability to support district and teacher generated programs would be greatly hindered without their help. They are truly difference makers.”

Sponsors are a driving force in the success of the fundraising effort, Gagos reported – from the primary event sponsor being the Oakdale Irrigation District to a dozen $500 sponsors, and various levels of sponsorship in between.

“The event committee is amazing and has garnered more event sponsor support than ever before. We can’t thank our event sponsors enough,” she noted. “They are varied businesses and people that believe in building character and community from the ground up. By attaching their names to the OEF effort, they encourage others to do the same and, therefore, are priceless ambassadors. The event sponsors literally fuel the fulfillment of OEF’s mission.”

The entertainment at this year’s event is described as a “movin’ mix of music.” The headliner act is “Donnie and the Wayrads,” a band that plays dance music that includes classic rock and Top 40 hits. The band has played together since 1987 and can play rock, funk, country, disco, metal and oldies.

“This band actually is really amazing,” Gagos said. “There are some really good, outstanding musicians… They have this amazing playlist.”

Other performers at the “Music ‘n’ Motion” event will be the Oakdale High School jazz ensemble and the Oakdale Junior High School steel drum band, both led by OJUSD music director Ross McGinnis. He reported that approximately 40 students will perform.

“The kids are excited to participate in such a high profile event,” McGinnis said, “plus they feel good that they can give back to OEF. All have benefitted from OEF’s contributions through many of the programs and classrooms that they have spent time in, and will spend time in towards the future.”

Modesto guitarist Darin Morris will also perform.

To purchase a reservation for the event, go to the OJUSD office at 168 S. Third Ave. or call (209) 531-6624. Checks may be made payable to the Oakdale Educational Foundation, cash and credit cards are also accepted.