Penguin gala to raise money for Cape Girardeau Public Schools Foundation

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Black and white are timeless, elegant and, in this case, fun.

The third annual Penguin Party benefit gala to raise money for Cape Girardeau Public School Foundation will be Saturday. Most people wear tuxes and gowns or suits and cocktail dresses, but some guests take the penguin theme to heart.

"Last year I wore a penguin tie and penguin socks," Jerome Malczewski said in an e-mail interview. "[I] am in the process of finding new penguin gear to add to my ensemble for 2009."

He said the penguin theme adds a lot of energy to the party. Organizers had an ulterior motive for the choice.

"It was a theme we could stick with every year," said Tammy Samuel, the foundation director. "Knowing the event would be after the holidays, we were motivated that decorations on that theme would be on sale. We still use the same decorations."

The gala raises funds for the foundation's Great Idea Teaching Grants.

"Each year, the foundation awards these teaching grants to Cape Girardeau public school teachers to help them turn innovative ideas and teaching strategies into realities," said Amy McDonald, the foundation president, said in a news release.

The grants have funded programs at Central Junior High like "Study Island," a web-based learning program that provides a different way of reaching and motivating at-risk students or "Catapulting to Proficiency in Science," a grant that incorporates Science Olympiad events into the science curriculum.

Samuel said last year the foundation awarded grants to 14 teachers, for a total of $26,495. This year's goal is $45,000.

Nancy Bone, Central Junior High School science teacher, said the Science Olympiad is an important opportunity to challenge students to work their hardest and to learn the importance of teamwork. Last year, the Science Olympiad inspired one of her students to try harder in the subject, which he previously ignored, Bone said.

"This one bright moment is what keeps me always looking for ways to instill that love of learning in children," Bone wrote in an e-mail thanking the foundation.

Malczewski said he attends the gala every year because he thinks that through supporting the grants "we strengthen our education system and better prepare our children for adulthood.

"Parents need to take more of an interest in the education of their children and communities need to do all they can to provide teachers with the resources to do their job well," he said. "Events such as the Penguin Party give us the opportunity to do that very thing."

The foundation also holds the Tiger Golf Shootout and the Tiger Tailgate Party to raise money for the grants.

The Penguin Pary begins at 6 p.m. Saturday with a social hour, drinks, hors d'oeuvres and live jazz music by Cape Central Jazz Band, followed by a 7 p.m. dinner, then a live auction at 8 p.m. and dancing with music by local band Mudpuppy at the Cape Country Club in Cape Girardeau.


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