A thousand rubber duckies racing on Woods Pond on Saturday will have a big impact on the lives of Barrington school children.
That’s the message from the Barrington Education Foundation, which holds its annual Rubber Ducky Race fundraiser on Sept. 29 from 2 to 4 pm. The rubber duckies race at 3 pm sharp.
Each year the race and accompanying festival raise about $10,000 that goes into Barrington’s schools, said Carolyn Greeley, communications chair for the BEF. Tickets for each ducky are $10. You can buy 6 duckies for $50.
“The Rubber Ducky Race is probably the most visible and memorable of our fundraisers,” said Dara Iserson, co-president of BEF. “It’s a great way for us to engage with the community in a fun way, and try to get BEF’s message out to the public, all while supporting our schools.”
“BEF plays a critical role in our school system,” she said. “We are able to fund the types of programs that the school budget does not have room for. BEF selects grants that best fit with its vision that every public school student receives a world-class education, and is inspired, challenged, and guided to reach his or her greatest potential.”
“BEF endeavors to fund innovative initiatives that provide extraordinary learning experiences to as many students as possible,” adds Deanna Donnelly, the other co-president of BEF. “We really strive to provide valuable resources that take learning to the next level, but that might otherwise not be available.
“Each year, dozens of teachers submit grant proposals,” she said. “Each proposal reflects significant time, planning, and thoughtfulness. Applications are first approved by the principals, and the approved applicants are given the opportunity to present their proposal to a group of BEF board members. After a thorough review session, this group makes recommendations that are presented to the full BEF board.”
Ron Tarro, finance director for the Barrington schools, said: "Most taxpayers know that it's very challenging to do as many programs as we'd like to offer. Over the years, the BEF has been able to provide new, cutting edge technologies that we otherwise would not have been able to provide through the operating budget. The smart boards, steam engines for science at the middle school, the wind tunnel at the high school, the Sunrise Show…. There are a number of initiatives that we simply would not have been able to put in the system without the BEF."
Not every grant requires a huge financial investment, said Greeley. This past year, BEF awarded $375 for a cold frame for a gardening/science project at the middle school that could substantially extend the growing season so that the students can have a real, hands-on learning experience.
At the same time, a more sizable BEF grant of $10,000 was used to purchase laptops and a recharging cart for the high school library, which are also shared with all high school classrooms.
Other BEF grants have gone toward Vernier and Pasco Probeware for the chemistry and physics departments at the high school, an environmental science project based on nature trails at Hampden Meadows School, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) materials for the elementary school libraries.
BEF also purchased steam engines for the middle school science teachers to use for hands-on learning about energy.
Other grants were used to purchase a large capacity production kiln for ceramic students at the high school, three sets of virtual synthesizer software for an electronic music course, and software for an Audio Production course at the high school. Without this updated software, this new offering would not have been possible, Greeley said.
Architectural-grade building blocks also were purchased for the middle school social studies classes to help students learn about building styles from various civilizations throughout history. And BEF recently awarded a grant for fitness bicycles at the high school.
Teachers from all disciplines can apply for grants, said Greeley. Since its inception, she said, BEF has raised and funded more than $930,000 through 466 grant requests that benefitted every school in the district.