Schools foundation plans surprises for fundraiser luncheon

April 30, 2013

By Peter Clark

With an eye on arts funding and book rooms, the Issaquah Schools Foundation is preparing to host its annual Nourish Every Mind luncheon on May 9.

Development Director Lynn Juniel was eager to share information about the upcoming event, but did not want to show every card in the foundation’s hand. One tidbit she happily shared was the name of the host. After filling in at the last minute in 2012, KIRO news anchor Dave Ross will return as the master of ceremonies.

“He’s a great guy,” Juniel said. “He cares a lot about the arts and it’s great to have that connection with him.”

He will not carry the hosting duties alone, however. Juniel said that he will share the stage with Issaquah High School sophomore Alaya Carr. Juniel praised Carr’s enthusiasm for arts funding, citing her performing background with Village Theatre.

The foundation is looking to create a $100,000 rotating fine arts fund, which would support everything from the purchase of new instruments to art supplies.

“Each year, a different area will have it to spend,” Juniel said. “The amount that we have to spend is all depending on the money we raise.”

Issaquah School District spokeswoman Sara Niegowski pointed to the multiple ways in which the Issaquah Schools Foundation has helped the district. In addition to arts funding, she said money raised from the foundation’s luncheon would help fund book rooms that elementary schools are trying to establish for students.

“These are specific research-based books that are specifically tailored to be of interest to students to improve literacy,” she said. “A lot of elementary schools are trying to build book rooms to help students.”

From yearly teacher grants to larger projects, like the Tiger Mountain Community High School teen center, Niegowski said that the foundation has consistently been a boon to the schools.

“People just care so much about the schools and that gave birth to the foundation,” she said. “They allow us to expand our services and to help all kids, from stragglers to the very advanced, get the most out of their school experience.”

Washington schools found themselves in a perilous position, according to Juniel. It is the 43rd state in the nation for school funding, and the Issaquah School District is 266 out of the state’s 295. Despite the placement, she said the district continues to offer advanced, comprehensive electives like computer science, Web design and finance.

“These are programs that we really can’t do without outside support,” Juniel said.

As the foundation prepares for the luncheon, its biggest fundraiser of the year, part of the festivities are already under way. One of the bigger changes made this year is placing the silent auction online. Juniel said it was a matter of capacity.

“The event has grown so tremendously that we need the space,” she said. “Last year, we had over 1,000 attendees and this year, we expect to have between 110 and 115 tables.”

The auction went live online on the morning of April 26 and Juniel said she was pleased to see that it has already been very active.

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