Legendary Evening attendees celebrate Niles schools, its supporters

NILES — If Niles had an official smell, it might have been at the Grand LV banquet center Friday evening.

A baker’s dozen of area food businesses provided their signature dishes to attendees of Legendary Evening, a Niles Education Foundation fundraising event meant to celebrate the movers and shakers of the Niles Community Schools community.

Live and silent auctions; drinks from bartender Samantha Beck and Iron Shoe Distillery; and boogie-worthy music dished out by DJ Adam Roark all occurred at the 6 to 10 p.m. event. The height of the evening, however, was in its recognition of community leaders.

Lisa Hannewyk-Muñoz, programs and grants chair of the foundation, introduced teachers Sara Grishaber, Jennifer Duis and Heather Racht. Each received grant funding from the foundation to implement innovative programs in classrooms.

District Superintendent Dan Applegate introduced Nancy Studebaker, the Niles District Library director. She helped bring the district’s adult education program to the library, where other adult education services are provided. The building’s basement was refitted to create a comfortable space for adult students.

Foundation Chair Peg Maiers introduced Jane Brandstatter as the recipient of the Exemplary Viking Award. It is given to Niles alumni who represent what it means to be a Viking.

Maiers asked peers what word or phrase best describes Brandstatter, who has served on various community-oriented boards for decades. She compiled this list: loyal, dedicated, giving, kind, purposeful, strong-willed, generous, passionate and a natural-born leader.

Brandstatter held back tears speaking about her love for Niles Community Schools during a speech.

She said ever since she went to a football game as a 5-year-old, she wanted to be a Viking. To her, a Viking does not equate to be an athlete, but having pride in one’s community.

“Whether it’s helping a classroom or coaching a [YMCA] t-ball team or joining a community board or donating time or money, it all matters,” she said.

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