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Austerlitz, New York
Kids and Schools | Local culture | Local living
7 December 2017 04:46PM

At its November board meeting, the Chatham Education Foundation (CEF) chose nine projects to fund for the 2018 Chatham school year.
“It is enormously gratifying to be able to bring to the schools these interesting and worthwhile projects,” said Judy Staber, president of the CEF Board.
Now in its 15th year of existence, the Foundation’s board consists of community members, school personnel and students. Its mission is to support with donated private funds innovative enrichment programs not available through the school budget.
The high school received funding for four programs. An extremely popular project — a trip sailing on the Clearwater Sloop on the Hudson River— funded last year is supported again; this time twice the number of student (over 60) will participate. Having studied in the classroom the scientific and social history of the Hudson River, students board the Clearwater, learn about the ship’s commercial past and how to sail it, e.g., how to operate the sexton, rudders and sails. Below deck they interact with the crew, test the River’s water quality and engage in a study assessing the ecological impact of the plastic trash currently in the river.
Another refunded project involves Artemis robotics; this nationally developed program offers high school students the chance to design and build their own robot which they then display and compete with against other schools’ robots. Science, technology, engineering and an entrepreneurial spirit are all involved.
A grant underwriting the cost of bus transportation will enable high school students especially interested in art to spend a day at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, for several a first visit both to the museum and to the city.
Lastly, the Millay Colony for the Arts has designed a program for a visiting, well-regarded poet, Danniel Schoonebeek, to be “Poet in Residence” in the high school for two weeks, spending at least five classroom sessions for each class he works with. A visiting artist from Millay will also offer studio sessions with designated students. The Middle School may participate in this program as well.
At the Middle School the highly popular “American Revolution Comes Alive” with social studies teacher William Richard, will be funded for a fourth year. In addition to classroom study of history, seventh grade students will spend a day at the fairgrounds, in appropriate costume with replicas of period rifles, building a battle encampment ground. The event will involve hands-on learning experience, e.g. open fire cooking, spinning flax, and building the encampment itself.
Last year, CEF funded the acquisition of Ukuleles for the fourth grade music teacher who believed that the instrument’s size and ease of play would make it a good vehicle for learning and appreciating music. The Ukuleles proved to be so popular that students in many grades longed to play them and borrow them. Thus funds are being given to the Middle School music teacher to buy 20 additional instruments for sixth through eighth graders. Not expensive, they are fun and easy to play and they assist in the practice of fine motor skills.
The Middle School will once more receive partial funding for its Character Education program. A year long and school-wide undertaking, all students engage in activities designed to develop qualities such as empathy, cooperation, perseverance and initiative. Four school-wide assemblies with invited speakers will be held.
The Flying Deer Nature Center, will once more be working with fourth graders in the elementary school. Dedicated to teaching about the environment as well as to learning about Native American tribes, this year all students will be reading My Side of the Forest, a book about surviving and problem solving in the woods.
The Art School of Columbia County will also again receive funds to offer its Art in the Library afterschool project. Five programs will be held which use poetry to inspire the children to write their own poems and then to create collages or simple paintings on the poetry’s themes. Children in kindergarten through fifth grade participate. The connection between spoken and visual language proves inspiring.
Two entities support the Foundation. The larger endowment, the Fund for the Arts and Humanities, established by the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, supports projects in the arts and humanities. A second, smaller endowment, the Alexander M. White Fund, named after a former school board president, supports all academic and artistic programs. The Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation administers the Foundation’s two funds.
To learn more about the CEF, to submit an application for a grant or to donate to either fund, visit http://www.chathameducationfoundation.com.

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