If you happened to be at the high school on the evening of February 27th, you probably noticed something unusual: groups of students and adults wandering the hallways and stopping at rooms with big, flashy signs posted near the doors. This event was the Chatham Education Foundation Evening of Recognition, or the CEF Grant Showcase. That evening, beginning around 5:00 pm, the biggest of the CEF donors were invited to the high school to witness their money in action. Organized by CEF’s mighty volunteers, the event’s goal was not only to send recognition to CEF’s largest donors, but give presentations explaining what projects their contributions have gone to throughout our school district.
The party that preceded the actual tours is worthy of noting as well. Upon arrival, the donors received a warm welcome, enjoying performances by Chatham High School’s two student-led a cappella groups, the “Varsity Vocals” (the all-male group) and “No Strings Attached” (the all-female group), as well as a special serenade by the Orchestra. The auditorium lobby looked quite unrecognizable decked out with coat racks, fancy tables, lights, and even a makeshift kitchen for the caterers that worked the event (Spoilers: the food was delicious). The organization illustrated their appreciation with printed name tags, access to an open bar, and gifts of fairly nice wine glasses with “Chatham Education Foundation” printed on them. Yes, it’s hard to believe all of this went down at Chatham High School.
Following the stellar performances of just a few of the groups that make up our school’s musical community, the seventy donors that attended the event met with tour guides, following the big silver balloons that matched the numbers on their nametags. Tours were led by a CEF volunteer and one or two CHS students, who served as guides through what I can only imagine seemed like a maze. Students delivered their groups to stops, where the teachers who applied for the grant explained its functionality at Chatham while the students provided their personal insight.
The following are just a few of the grants presented that evening. Odds are you will recognize at least a few of the following, and perhaps you’ve even utilized them yourself, whether it be in class as an assignment or during a period you have free.
Stocked with essential oils, teas, and other relaxing remedies, the rest and relaxation room (or R&R room) provides a tranquil break from the stresses of the school day. During lunch, calming music and sometimes even guided meditations are played for the enjoyment of the patrons, who lounge in beanbag chairs and miniature sofas. Indeed, all of the items I just listed are CEF grants.
Sticking with this theme of innovative learning spaces, Ms. Lynn’s room has recently been transformed into a ‘vertical classroom,’ as it now houses white boards across all the walls and tables, and the space is designed completely to allow mobility and collaboration. A previous article was published on this space if you find yourself interested.
A special thanks to the middle school robotics team for this presentation. Their impressive display of CMS’ pair of robots, named Winston and Wanda, seemed to woo everybody in the room. If you participate in robotics in any way at CHS, you are probably familiar with the humanoid robots, as we have a few of our own, as well (and yes: they too are CEF funded).
CHS’s beloved news show The Pulse also got to flex its muscles a bit. The new set, camera equipment, and teleprompters are all generous donations that make the room of The Pulse seem like a Hollywood studio. I was surely blown away as well, as I hadn’t before even stepped foot in the room. If you have an opportunity to take either TV Production or Short Films, do it.
And last but not least: the Virtual Reality goggles that you’ve probably seen in class come from a CEF grant: allowing language teachers to travel to foreign countries and practice with their students.
Once again, these grants are simply a few of the remarkable projects that have been funded district-wide. With the generous contributions of donors like the ones that attended CEF’s evening of recognition, students from across the district can continue to enjoy remarkable tools for education. Meanwhile, I can continue to be surprised when I volunteer for events such as these.