To the editor:
On Monday, Oct. 22, the Ale House in Amesbury was full of excitement as the Amesbury Educational Foundation Inc. (AEFI) handed out grants to well-deserving teachers of the Amesbury Public School system.
The evening started with a presentation of a Peter Gray Friend of Education Award to Detective Robert Wile of the Amesbury Police Department. The award was given by Deb Smith of the Pettengill House, Michele Robinson, superintendent of schools, Elizabeth McAndrews, dean of students, Steve O’Connor, assistant principal of the Amesbury Middle School, Kathy Glennon, former director of Student Services, and all five principals: Roy Hamond, Mike Curry, Wally Hellieson, Lou Charette and Donna Georges. Detective Wile was lauded for his dedication and compassion for families in Amesbury and his work within the school system. He is a resource that is invaluable.
Next came the presentation of the grants. On tap were the Jordan Shay Memorial Grant of $10,000 and two $5,000 grants. The Jordan Shay grant and trophy went to Jessica Regis of the high school who is partnering with Lowell’s Boat Shop for an integrative approach to math, science and history. One of the $5,000 grants was awarded to Marissa McCue at the AMS for NH Theatre Project/Shakespeare workshop. The other one was awarded to TJ Baril/Judy Burke at the AMS for Fit and Fun, a program to help curb obesity in our youth and teach them about healthy eating habits.
So just when everyone thought the evening was over, it was announced that due to the high quality and number of grant applications that there would be an additional $10,000 grant and an additional $5,000 grant. Those were awarded to Mark Casto at AHS for Project eSteme, which will be used to help students develop high-quality skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics for $10,000; and the $5,000 went to Beth Cavalier and Karen Iworsky at CES for Lights, Camera, what did you say?, a program that will install a new sound system in the cafetorium.
So the total awarded for the evening was $35,000! Such an amazing amount on top of the $ $21,669 that was awarded in the spring.
All of this does not happen without some very special support within our community. Once again Woody and Marcia Cammett showed all of us a spirit of giving that takes our breath away. At the very first event held over 10 years ago they stepped forward with a check for $10,000 and have repeated that gesture both last year and this year. Woody credits his Amesbury education and in particular several of his teachers for the success he enjoys today. He says it is his pleasure to give back to the school system that gave him so much. AEFI cannot thank them enough not just for the financial support but for the example they set in the community. Thank you, Woody and Marcia!
The next big thank-you goes out to the Provident Bank. Right from the start, they have been a big supporter. Year after year the Charitable Foundation has awarded AEFI grants of $10,000 a year. This year the bank went a step further and was the meal sponsor for the Autumn of Giving, as well. The message is loud and clear that the bank values public education and AEFI thanks the Provident Bank and in particular the president of the bank, Charlie Cullen, who not only signs the checks but shows up for every event AEFI holds.
Our last big sponsor is an amazing duo of women who took a personal tragedy and tried to find some good. Jordan Shay was an AHS graduate in the class of 2005. He enlisted in the army and was killed during his second tour in Iraq. Jordan Shay’s mom Holly Shay and his girlfriend Kelsey Chandonnet hold a bowling tournament every year and turn those funds raised over to AEFI. From the funds the Jordan Shay Memorial grant of $10,000 is awarded to a teacher or group of teachers. This was the third year. In addition, there has been close to an additional $10,000 in scholarships given out to AHS seniors going on to college. This was Jordan’s dream that he articulated to his mother should anything happen to him. He was an incredible young man who was smart, funny and compassionate. AEFI is committed to preserving his legacy.
There are several other thank-yous that needs to be said. Cider Hill donated the apples for the scrumptious apple crisp and Shaheen Brothers donated much of the other food. Once again the Ale House went out of their way to accommodate us in every way possible and special thanks to Jeff Nahas and Matt Chase. The Ale House looked beautiful and the food and service was top notch. The law firm of Healy, Deshaies, Gagliardi and Woelfel provided everyone with a commemorative beer glass, which were very popular.
In conclusion, AEFI is lucky to be supported by the wonderful community of Amesbury and we look forward to continuing to support teachers in the Amesbury Public Schools.
AEFI Board of Directors
Laurie Knapp, President
Autumn of Evening Chairperson