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Copley-Fairlawn Schools Foundation celebrating success

2/7/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

COPLEY — To celebrate its recent 20th anniversary, the Copley-Fairlawn Schools Foundation has set a goal of raising $20,000 to fund an additional scholarship for a district graduate.

Treasurer Bob Panovich said the organization is in the home stretch to raise the last $6,000 in the effort. The campaign will be ongoing through May.

One way community residents can help the effort is to participate in the “Hoop It Up” for Education fundraiser at the Feb. 22 boys basketball game at home against Highland High School. Participants who donate get the chance to take a half-court shot and win prize money if they make a basket, according to Copley resident Cristine Braman, who is one of the board members coordinating the event.

While the foundation is celebrating 20 years, Panovich said the group actually began in the 1980s, but wasn’t sustained. In the early 1990s, the superintendent of Copley-Fairlawn City Schools was interested in reviving the foundation, so Panovich and a group of other community members got involved.

The foundation started out with a goal of providing scholarships to Copley High School graduates.

“When we started, we had $63 in the bank,” Panovich said. “We sold T-shirts to raise $5,000 for two scholarships, and in 1992 our first scholarships were offered.”

He added that from the start the scholarships were meant to encourage more students to seek out higher education.

“Our scholarships can be for divinity school, or the fireman’s or police academy,” Panovich said. “We try also not to give scholarships to kids who have 4.0 grade point averages or above. We also wanted to, by providing that little bit of money, encourage a child to go to school for at least the first year, if they just needed that push to get to school.”

A few years into their efforts, the foundation began providing funded scholarships that families could set up through the foundation.

Through all of its efforts, the foundation reports it has given out 262 scholarships totaling $139,400 since 1992.

In the late 1990s, the foundation began offering educational grants to district teachers who wanted to do special programs or projects with their students, Panovich said.

“They’re not looking for $1,000,” he said. “Often they’re just looking for a $500 grant to help students accomplish more.”

The grants have helped fund author visits and the purchase of equipment like cameras for classroom use, he added.

The foundation also has paid for the services of a professional grant writer, which recently resulted in a grant for 30 iPads for a computer lab, Panovich said.

While donations help the foundation to achieve its goals, Panovich said the organization does conduct the Golfing for Education fundraiser with the Fairlawn Chamber of Commerce every June. The group also holds a reverse raffle and auction each November and recently began hosting a 5K run event.

He added the organization is volunteer-run.

“This foundation doesn’t spend a penny other than on scholarships,” he said.

And with 20 years of the foundation’s history behind it, members are also glad to hear from past scholarship recipients for whom the money made a difference.

“We’ve tried to give to Copley students that had nowhere to go, kids without parents who are living with grandparents who just needed that push, and we’ve had some wonderful results,” Panovich said. “We had kids destined for trouble who have come back and told us, ‘You guys made it possible.’”

For details, go to www.cop ley-fairlawn.org or call 330-664-4800. Donations may be sent in care of Copley-Fairlawn City Schools, 3797 Ridgewood Road, Copley, OH 44321.

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