The Oakdale Educational Foundation recently held its annual grant awards ceremony where it distributed more than $140,000 to Oakdale teachers to enrich education programs for students in the district. The OEF gave away nearly $81,000, plus an additional $60,000 from the Oakdale Joint Unified School District. The OEF had applications totaling nearly $200,000.
Magnolia Elementary School Principal Julie Minabe said at the recent school board meeting that one of the more exciting grants her school received was a new grant called the “maxi grant,” where the OEF matched funds raised by each school site’s parent teacher organizations up to $5,000. Each school site had the opportunity to identify a project for the maxi grant that site officials believed would affect the most students, some of the projects were of benefit to the community as well. Magnolia received the full $5,000 from the OEF grant.
“We are working on upgrading audio and video capabilities in our auditorium,” Minabe said.
Magnolia auditorium hosts numerous concerts and other events in the school district where students perform for large audiences.
Oakdale High School art teacher Nancy Kern said that the art budget at the high school was cut dramatically this year. She acknowledged that all budgets have been devastated and that in her department the cuts make it difficult to have a viable art program. She said that the OEF grant money will get her and the other art teachers through the year by allowing them to purchase items such as prisma colored pencils, paint, paper, tape, and so on for the students to use.
OHS teacher Pete Simoncini was awarded two grants through OEF. One was to sponsor the History Day event held just prior to state testing in April. He described it as being similar in nature to the Super Quiz portion of the Academic Decathlon and helps all history students learn and retain information they’ll need for testing. The winning team for each group wins a prize.
“We have found that this competition motivates students to do well on state tests,” Simoncini said.
His second OEF grant makes it possible to offer “scholarships” for students to take AP tests. Simoncini said that the Social Studies Department sponsors five AP courses. Some students take three or four national tests sponsored by the College Board at $87 apiece.
“So to make things easier for parents, we give those who apply some discount – $20 to $40 in the past, depending on how many social studies related national AP tests they are taking,” Simoncini said. “This one is just a nice augmentation and a small reward for hard work.”
Oakdale Junior High School teachers Janet Medina and Candi Crawford received grants to benefit the school’s Renaissance program, which offers incentives for students who get good grades.
“At the Junior High level, students begin learning about the Grade Point Average system and how it relates to education,” Medina explained. “Through the Renaissance program, students receive incentives encouraging (them) to have good attendance and get better grades. The OEF grant funds most of our Renaissance program here at Oakdale Junior High and it benefits most students with rewards. It also encourages students with poor grades to improve their grades.”
“Thanks to the OEF grants, students are rewarded for good grades, grade improvements, and good attendance in school,” Crawford added further. “…This program is a reward program to motivate students to improve their GPA and to come to school every day.”
East Stanislaus High School has something similar called the Principal’s Incentive Program, or Honor Roll, that is overseen by Principal Mike Riley.
He said that ESHS has six grade blocks in which a student can earn 12.5 credits. Students who earn at least 12 per block make the Honor Roll. Riley added that the OEF grant pays for lunch with the principal that the honor roll students earn, which he said has become a popular event, and the grant also allows ESHS to take all the seniors on a field trip to Modesto Junior College in the spring.
Other grants included funding for technological equipment for classrooms, supplies, computer reading programs, math and spelling activities, after school programs, computer programs, and more.