The second annual Reach for Excellence fundraiser for the Hood River County Education Foundation (HRCEF) topped expectations by grossing over $70,000 and selling out all tickets. The net proceeds from the event will be awarded as Innovative Teaching Grants to Hood River County School District educators, available to all schools and programs. The gala event was held February 2 at the Best Western Plus Inn and included dinner, student performances, and an auction and Paddle Raise.
Reach for Excellence 2019 showcased some of the talented teachers and students in the district, beginning with HRVHS technology teacher Jeff Blackman’s students demonstrating Spheros, small spherical robots that can be programmed (coded) to carry out various tasks. Wy’east Middle School music teacher Dylan Norcross conducted the Wy’east Jazz Ensemble, and HRVHS music teacher Dan Kenealy led the Chamber Singers. All three teachers have received Innovative Teaching grants in 2019. The HRVHS Horticulture class students created beautiful fresh floral centerpieces in handmade bases for the tables.
HRCEF Teaching Grants chair Aspen McKenna introduced “Building a Tower from Dollar Bills,” a competition among tables at the event to build the tallest tower using only dollar bills. The winning table received cupcakes from Nature Cakes, and the Foundation received all of the dollar bills used in the tower constructions.
The event also featured the sale of 50 “Golden Tickets,” for $100 each. Purchaser names went into a hat, and the winning Golden Ticket holder could select any one of the auction items. Winners Liz and Dave Whitmore chose the beach vacation stay in Seaside for their Golden Ticket.
Auctioneer Dave Griffith, of Griffith Motors in The Dalles, persuaded attendees to part with top dollars for auction items, including the Dessert of the Month: a wonderful homemade dessert for every month of the year, a guided tour of the remaining artifacts of the Oregon Trail along the Barlow Road on Mt. Hood, tickets to both the Timbers and the Thorns, and Mt. Hood Meadows ski tickets.
Volunteer HRCEF Board members created and ran the event. Fundraising Committee chair Mike Schend said, “Our gala was incredible, thanks to a complete team effort on the part of the HRCEF Board. This board is the best I have ever worked with. We exceeded our goal.”
Business sponsors for the event were Insitu/Boeing (Platinum), Hood Tech Vision (Gold), Copper West Real Estate, Cardinal Glass, and Celilo Restaurant (Silver), Edward Jones, and Columbia River Insurance (Bronze), and Hood River Best Western Plus. Table sponsors were Ron and Linne Dodge, Indian Creek Family Eye Care, Community Bank, Columbia Bank, Crestline Construction, Hasson Company Realtors, and Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital.