News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

March 21, 2014

Funding a firm foundation

School literary, manufacturing programs made possible by much needed mini-grants

TERRE HAUTE — A literary magazine has given students at Terre Haute North Vigo High School a forum for expression outside the classroom for the last 16 years.

English teacher John Petty credits funding from the Vigo County Education Foundation with making the magazine possible.

The foundation has also funded technology programs that teach students to make tools and machines needed to produce consumer goods.

On Friday, student Jacob Harmon was among the students who demonstrated making a parallel clamp during a tour of the technology program.

The Business and Bagels meeting of community leaders showcased two of the grant recipients “in action” – programs that might not have been assisting students if not for the financial support of the foundation.

Vigo County School Superintendent Danny Tanoos said that schools in Indiana are constantly faced with the challenge of doing more educationally with fewer funds from the state. So the local financial support of the foundation is essential to many programs, especially the enrichment programs that receive mini-grants of up to $750 annually.

The literary magazine “Northern Reflections” is one of those programs.

Written by students for the past 16 years, the magazine consistently publishes award-winning submissions from student writers and artists.

“It really is a good opportunity for everyone involved,” said senior Kelsey Thomas, who has participated in the program for four years.

“Personally, I’m very thankful to be a part of this group and this magazine,” agreed student Jodie Bledsoe.

In career technology education, the foundation has funded more than $10,000 in mini-grants, said CTE director Doug Dillion.

More than 14,400 people are employed in manufacturing in Vigo County, he said, and the average annual pay is $58,000. That is why the local high schools have made significant investments in manufacturing education.

“We machine routinely in here to half the thickness of your hair,” teacher Martin Nagy said during a demonstration.

In order to mass produce products, he said, manufacturers need individuals who can make the machines to make everything else. The high school students in the program get a head start on the certification programs they will enter in the manufacturing community.

“It’s incredibly important to introduce young people to industry as a career path,” said Laurence Cross, general manager of Tri Aerospace, during the tour of the technology area. “We have hired four or five students who came through the school programs and are now employed full-time with us.”

Education foundation executive director Jennifer Thomas said the foundation has a new website coming on line next week that can share more about the programs and partnerships that are promoting high-quality education for local children.

For more information about the foundation, its funding and programming, go online to www.vigo countyeducationfound ation.org.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

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