Midwest Energy & Communication grants $30,000 to area education projects

CASSOPOLIS — The Midwest Energy & Communications prize patrol surprised 22 teachers in January with grant awards from its 2018 Strengthening Schools program.

Beth Baker, a special needs teacher with the Van Buren ISD, was one of the educators surprised with funding for students to attend a performance of “The Lion King.”

“The words ‘thank you’ do not seem large enough to express our gratitude,” she said to the patrol members. “I was shaking the whole time you were talking, on the verge of tears, and could not wrap my head around the generosity of Midwest Energy & Communications. Our students just don’t get these opportunities, and I wish you could have seen their faces when the magnitude of your generosity finally sunk in.”

Grants are funded with partnership dollars from Touchstone Energy Cooperative. Co-op members Carla Chase, Steve Cramer and Samantha Evans evaluated and scored all applications, and determined final awards without the prior knowledge of the school, district or community.

Awards were presented to the following schools and projects:

• Colon Elementary School, $2,500 for level-reading books

• Lawton Elementary School, $1,000 for iPads

• Marcellus Elementary School, $700 for its Books on Buses program

• Marcellus Middle/High School, $650 for equipment for a digital and multimedia design class

• Mattawan Later Elementary, $200 for a field trip

• Mattawan Middle School, $1,550 for expansion of its beekeeping club

• Morenci Elementary and Middle Schools, $2,000 each for a STREAM outdoor learning space

• Portage Central High School, $1,000 for a community teen-read event

• Prairie Elementary School, $2,500 for iPads and accessories

• Ross Beatty Junior/Senior High School, $1,650 for its robotics team and $1,500 for art class supplies

• Ruth Hoppin Elementary, $1,050 for its decompression learning space and classroom

• Sam Adams Elementary, $700 for itsbooks and $1,150 for weekend meal backpack program

• South Walnut Elementary, $2,500 for a sensory tool library

• Springbrook Middle School, $500 for its special needs classroom library

• Stubnitz Environmental Education Program, $2,500 for a native pollinator landscape and garden

• Three Rivers High School, $1,000 for its courtyard school garden

• Van Buren County Intermediate School District, $1,000 for a field trip

• Volinia Outcomes School, $1,350 for its maple syrup sugar shack/classroom and $1,000 for curriculum and supplies for its middle school alternative education program

“Many organizations give lip service to being involved and giving back to their community, but I had the privilege of witnessing first-hand how our own MEC takes that responsibility seriously by investing in our local schools,” said Cramer. “I witnessed the surprise, joy and even tears of teachers, students and administrators as we provided grants for so many worthy projects. These funds truly are making a difference in the quality of education and life for our young people.”

Information and applications for the 2018-19 funding cycles will be available at teammidwest.com beginning in April.

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