Sparta Education Foundation to support robotics and physical education programs
The Sparta Education Foundation has approved two new grants to Sparta Township Public Schools, bringing the total amount awarded to the school district to over $200,000. Sparta’s Board of Education officially accepted both grants at its meeting last Monday, Jan. 24.
The first grant will support Sparta High School’s Robotics and Pre-Engineering curriculum, providing $11,000 in funding for hardware, software and supplies. With SEF funding, the school will be able to offer both first-level and advanced-level Robotics Engineering courses for students from grade nine through twelve. The SEF has committed to renew its funding for the robotics engineering program for five years, contingent upon satisfactory annual reports and the district’s continued commitment to the robotics curriculum.
“We are currently preparing kids for jobs that don’t yet exist, that require technology that hasn’t yet been invented, to solve problems we don’t yet know are a problem,” said Sparta High School teacher Mark Meola, who initiated the robotics grant request. “Robotics education enhances problem-solving skills, encourages innovation, and provides students with hands-on opportunities to apply principles of technology, engineering, math and science.”
The second grant of $5,475 will fund the purchase of fifteen stationary bicycles for Sparta High School. All students, totaling approximately 1,100 for the 2010-2011 school year, are required to take physical education each day. The bicycles will ensure that every student has access to cardiovascular equipment during the course of each class period.
Catherine Wille, who teaches physical education at Sparta High School and initiated the grant request for the physical education department, said that the fifteen new stationary bicycles will help the department better serve every student and teach the importance and benefits of daily exercise and fitness techniques. “Each class will use the bicycles,” she noted, “from including them as part of circuit training to providing exercise spin classes like those students would experience in a paid gym facility.”
Like public schools across New Jersey, Sparta’s school district is facing serious fiscal challenges. Communities are turning to local education foundations to help generate additional sources of revenue for educational programs and services that enhance the curriculum and learning environment.
“Sparta’s public schools need additional sources of revenue now more than ever,” said Jennifer Dericks, President of the Sparta Board of Education. “From fundraising initiatives to public-private partnerships, the SEF has been a huge supporter of our schools, helping to provide resources to ensure continued excellence in our district.”
Sparta Education Foundation President Kylen Anderson noted the importance of community support to the SEF’s continued ability to provide financial support to the school district. “The SEF is able to make these grants to benefit our students and our schools because of the generous support of our donors. In particular, we feel very fortunate to count on partnerships with local businesses who share our commitment to making Sparta a community in which we can all take pride.”
Last November, the SEF hosted its fourth annual Krogh’s 5k Turkey Trot, raising over $40,000. Tickets are on sale now for the foundation’s fifth annual fundraising gala, Cabaret, to be held at Lake Mohawk Country Club on Saturday, March 19th. This year’s theme, Snow Ball Cabaret, will offer an elegant evening of cocktails, dinner and dancing as well as silent and live auctions with exceptional items up for bid.
In addition to special events, ongoing SEF fundraisers include Pathways to Excellence, a walkway of personalized engraved pavers in front of the Sparta Theatre, and a fundraiser with Viridian Energy that allows consumers to choose green energy with their local utility company and support Sparta’s public schools at the same time.
Since 2006, the SEF has awarded grants in excess of $200,000 to fund projects that enhance Sparta’s schools and directly benefit students. Projects funded with SEF grants include the purchase of Smartboards and wireless projectors throughout Alpine and Helen Morgan Schools, 48 Classmate PCs for second grade classrooms, and science lab equipment for the freshman science labs at Sparta High School.