LEF helps fill gaps for Leland students
Leland Public Schools' ties to its local community — including parents, grandparents, alumni, and even people with practically no direct connection to the school — have played a direct role in keeping many school programs afloat financially.
Perhaps the best example of the school’s strong tie to the community, according to superintendent Jason Stowe, is the Leland Educational Foundation.
At its annual “Arts and Inspiration” fundraiser in May, the Leland Educational Foundation (LEF) raised more than $40,000 to support Leland Public School programs.
According to LEF officials writing in the school district’s periodic newsletter, “The LEF strives to support ongoing educational enrichment, through grants for such varied items as musical instruments, field trips, technology upgrades and the Farm-to- School program.”
In fact, widespread community support has enabled the LEF to fill the financial gap for Leland Public School for more than 15 years, according to LEF Board President Kerry Satterwhite. Writing in the foundation’s newsletter, she reported that in the 2010-2011 school year, the LEF contributed nearly $80,000 in grants to the school district.
In the 2011-2012 school year, for example, LEF contributions helped pay for a trip to Chicago by Leland Honors Physics students for the 13th year in a row. In addition, fifth graders enjoyed a trip to Mackinac Island last year, supported in part by the LEF.
The LEF’s popular “Insight and Inspiration” speaker series also continued last year, with a roster of wellknown and highly accomplished people offering presentations at school for the entire community.
Another major community-based program the school is involved in that is supported in part by the LEF is the Farm-to-School program. The LEF provided $6,000 in matching funds for a $50,000 grant the school district received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the program.
The Farm-to-School program will return to Leland this year, and is an example of how more closely tied the school district is becoming to local businesses and farms. As a result of these community ties, the school lunch program was able to offer seasonal local fruits and vegetables to students, and scratch-cooked meals using all-local products.
School officials and local community groups alike are seeking to keep the Farm-to-School program sustainable in the years ahead even if government funding decreases.
The foundation is not the only community group partnering with Leland Public School to enhance the student and community experience.
The Verdier Circle of Friends was established in 2005 to help pay for the school district’s popular drama program. Donors associated with the Verdier Circle have underwritten a variety of musical plays and other dramatic productions in the school’s Performing Arts Center.
Last year, students at Leland also showed their commitment to supporting members of their own community by holding a series of fundraisers to support cancer patients. In 2011, a Pennies for Patients fundraiser at Leland elementary raised $676 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma chapter in northwest lower Michigan. In 2012, students raised almost $900 for the program.