O.C. Education Foundation Has Banner Year of Giving

O.C. Education Foundation Has Banner Year of Giving

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In Honor of Audrey Eichenberger Scholarship winners, from left front, Andrew Allegretto, Keira Janto, Brett Oves, Morgan Beckmann and Riley Madden, and incoming OCEF President Pete Madden. (Photos courtesy of OCEF)

By MADDY VITALE

To say that the Ocean City Education Foundation (OCEF) has had a busy year helping the school community may be an understatement.

They were able to award grants for teachers and scholarship funds for students thanks to the generosity of sponsors and donors, OCEF officials said.

Jennifer Shirk, former president of OCEF, said OCEF members are grateful to the community for their support.

“We could not have accomplished all we have this past year without the help of so many community partners,” Shirk said.

She noted that the annual Red & White Social in October led to so many donations for OCEF to be able to give to the worthy recipients.

“We were able to put a lot of those funds to great use,” Shirk said.

She said that sponsors of the event, along with other donations from the community, were instrumental in providing the help needed to give out grants and scholarships to teachers and students.

“We are so blessed to live in a community that is so deeply invested in the education and well-being of our students,” Shirk said.

OCEF officers from left, Jennifer Shirk, Jake Birch, Pete Madden and Aimee Schultz.

Shirk will be passing the OCEF’s “presidential” baton to Ocean City Councilman Pete Madden and will take over as the organization’s secretary in the next school year. Aimee Schultz will remain as treasurer and Jake Birch will remain as vice president.

Madden said a few words about his soon-to-be new title.

“It will be a pleasure to serve as president this coming school year. We have some great new board members,” he said.

He continued, “I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with the new superintendent as well and build upon the success the education foundation has attained since its beginning.”

The foundation, which began around 2008, is made up of members of the community, including teachers, administrators, parents, business owners and residents in the school district. It was formed to enhance and expand enrichment opportunities for all students in the Ocean City School District and the community.

Most recently, OCEF gave $10,000 — 10 $1,000 scholarships — for seniors with the help of Ron Jon Surf Shop in Ocean City.

In April, the foundation awarded teachers over $7,500 in grants. That money also went on to fund an end-of-year “Celebration of Success” at Jilly’s Arcade for all Ocean City sixth graders.

In Memory of Mario Galleli Scholarship winners are Reece Wagner, Abigail and Caitlin Laursen, Isabella Santoro and Natalie Argento.

In addition, funds went to things including, dance fitness equipment for the high school dance program, materials for sensory play and for Teaching Artistic Behavior 3D Sculpture Exploration in the Primary School.

OCEF also set aside money for students’ Activity Access Grants.

“The Ocean City Education Foundation strongly supports equal access and inclusion of all students to any after-school activity of their choosing,” Shirk emphasized. “This program is designed to assist students with a financial need who want to participate in an Ocean City School District-sponsored program.”

Some examples of ways the foundation could help the students is with funds for sports equipment, musical instrument rentals and choir trips, she added.

There were some lighthearted things OCEF sponsored for students and staff to enjoy.

With the support of Intermediate School Principal Mike Mattina, OCEF sponsored a Cabin Fever Night at Jilly’s Arcade on the Boardwalk for all fourth and fifth grade students.

“That was a hit for the kids and parents as well,” Shirk pointed out.

There was also an OCEF-sponsored ice cream prize day for Primary and Intermediate School students for SEL (social emotional learning) Day. During lunch, the Student Council organized an SEL trivia showcase with all grade levels.

“The trivia game focused on character traits, the importance of social and emotional competencies, and how to support peers in times of need,” Shirk explained. “All of the students received an ice cream as a prize.”

And OCEF helped fund the “National Day of Unplugging” awareness campaign that promoted a 24-hour respite from technology on March 4.

“The event was promoted through daily announcements about the importance of establishing healthy boundaries for technology and social media use,” Shirk said. “Students were challenged to place their cell phones in a ‘nap sack’ for the day and leave their cell phone in a secure location.”

For more information visit, the OCEF Facebook page or go to www.ocefnj.com.

Students in the OC Minds Matter Club display a cellphone “nap sack” in the March challenge. (Photo courtesy of Ocean City Schools)