LEAF plans projects to benefit students
JARRAD HEDES/TIMES NEWS Lehighton Education and Athletic Foundation board members include, front row, from left, Renee Biechy, Tim Tkach and Ruth Bush; and back row, from left, Larry Markley, Randy Nolf, Hugh Dugan and Dennis Serfass. Board members not pictured are James Blakeslee, Jake Boyer, Jonathan Cleaver and Todd Serfass.
Hugh Dugan saw how successful the Men of Marian booster organization worked for Marian Catholic High School and thought a similar program could work in Lehighton.
Thanks to the vision of the Lehighton High School graduate and a former district teacher, the nonprofit Lehighton Education and Athletic Foundation launched in 2013 and is starting to hit its stride.
"The whole idea of the foundation is to give back to our students in all grades, K-12," Dugan said.
The goal is to provide scholarships to Lehighton graduates, award competitive grants to teachers for innovative curricular activities, provide financial support for enrichment and remediation programs, expand use of technology in the classroom and enrich the fine arts, extracurricular and athletic programs.
When the 11-member board gets together, it doesn't take long for the ideas to start flowing.
At a workshop Wednesday night, they kicked around the possibility of a project where people could buy pavers, which might be placed at Lehighton's new multipurpose athletic stadium or another district facility. Part of the revenue from the sales would come back to LEAF.
Lehighton High School Principal Craig Reichl also suggested a 2016 after-school carnival, similar to the final scenes of "Grease," of which some proceeds would go back to LEAF.
While board members said they liked both ideas, they remain only possibilities at this point.
LEAF raises money through fundraisers, Educational Improvement Tax Credits and donations.
EITC is a state program that allows businesses to use their tax dollars to receive tax credits equal to 75 percent of its contribution to a foundation. The credit increases to 90 percent if the business provides the same contribution for two consecutive years.
"We've had two fundraisers to date," Dugan said. "Money raised was given as a grant to Laura Welkey, a teacher in the middle school's music department. She requested the purchase of iPads to give her students a chance to be creative using up-to-date musical technology."
According to Tim Tkach, a LEAF board member and Lehighton's director of curriculum, instruction and grants, the fundraisers brought in enough to purchase five iPads. The district matched the money and purchased another five iPads.
"The students have really enjoyed using the iPads and it gives them another creative outlet," Tkach said. 'We're looking to do more of that here in Lehighton."
Board members include Dugan, president; Dennis Serfass, vice president; Randy Nolf, treasurer; Tkach, secretary; and Renee Biechy, James Blakeslee, Jake Boyer, Ruth Bush, Jonathan Cleaver, Larry Markley and Todd Serfass.
Committees include endowment and legacy society, alumni, information technology, public relations and advocacy, allocation, governance, giving campaigns, special events and EITC, major gifts and grant writing.
LEAF's alumni committee is forming a database of alumni addresses and encourage all past class presidents or class reunion chairpersons of Lehighton High School to forward a copy of the class rosters to Tim Tkach at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The board would like to establish a Distinguished Alumni Wall of Honor," Dugan said. "The idea is to recognize outstanding alumni who have greatly impacted the local community, state, nation or the world.
By recognizing these people, it is hoped their example will instill motivation and pride in Lehighton's students and in the community."
Other projects are also in the works.
"We want to look at our after-school programs and possibly extending our Title I programs in the summer," Tkach said.
For more information on LEAF or joining a committee, visit www.LEAF-foundation.org, or email info@LEAF-foundation.org.