Students to start calling for school donations

October 19, 2010

By Laura Geggel

Students from Issaquah’s three high schools are banding together, phones in hand, with the goal of bringing home $300,000 for the Issaquah Schools Foundation’s Calling for Kids annual fund campaign.

Students will be dialing numbers from 6-8:30 p.m. Oct. 25 and 28.

In the past, the foundation used Costco’s call center, but “the writing was on the wall that we were not going have the use of Costco anymore,” Calling for Kids co-chairwoman Leigh Stokes said.

Faced with the dilemma of providing phones for 150 students, the foundation coordinated with Issaquah School District administrators and secured the use of the district administration building.

This year, callers will be spread out across the building, while others will use cell phones the foundation purchased for its annual campaign.

The foundation purchased 90 cell phones with reloadable minutes for $1,600, with T-Mobile underwriting $1,000 of the expense.

The foundation also worked with TelAdvance, a company in California that gave them a deal of about 7 cents per minute, foundation Development Manger Lynn Juniel said.

Foundation members had searched far and wide for access to another phone bank, and cell phones seemed to be the best and least expensive option, she said.

“The whole point of the phoneaton is to raise money for the children, and we need to keep expenses as low as possible,” Juniel said.

About 150 high school students from across the district are making the calls. The foundation gave information about the fundraiser to Associated Student Body leaders, who passed it on to student groups, including the Army Junior ROTC, honors society and lacrosse team.

Any money donated to the foundation will support a number of programs, including new science curriculum for kindergarten through fifth grade, new chemistry textbooks and equipment, robotics clubs at the middle and high schools, and financial literacy programs for all eighth-grade students.

Money raised by the fundraiser will also go toward after-school homework labs, the VOICE Mentoring Program, National Board Certification Scholarships for teachers and Academic Enrichment grants for classrooms.

The foundation first paid for the robotics club at Issaquah High School, and this is the first year it will fund it for all middle and high schools, Stokes said.

“The impacts of that program have been so positive as far as turning kids onto science and the STEM subjects and connecting with school,” she said the push for science, technology, engineering and math subjects. “We started getting interest from other schools as well.”

The elementary school curriculum the foundation is subsidizing promotes the natural curiosity found in so many student scientists. The introduction of the curriculum would be simultaneous in every elementary school, and the foundation would provide training for teachers so they can confidently teach it this fall, Stokes said.

Sunset Elementary School Principal Wayne Hamasaki said the foundation had provided schools like his with invaluable resources.

“We have many teachers using research-based GLAD instructional strategies in their classrooms, students having a one-on-one VOICE mentor to help them succeed, music teachers using instructional software, library books that enhance our curriculum, all possible through ISF,” he wrote in an e-mail.

He said he was especially excited about the “Project Inquiry: Science and Technology for the 21st Century” curriculum change for kindergarten through fifth-grade students, which the foundation will help pay for along with the district.

The foundation works with principals and teachers across the district to determine which programs to fund. Once a grant is awarded, the foundation does a follow-up to ensure it has good results.

“We work with principals to see the results of after-school homework labs,” Stokes said. “What results are we seeing? Is this making a difference?”

Last year, the foundation raised about $250,000 from its Calling for Kids campaign. If the full $300,000 is raised this fall, the foundation will have about $18.75 per student.

“Whether its $5 a month or $500 a year, we want everyone to participate,” Stokes said.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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