School foundation funds educational opportunities

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette The Hancock Public Schools Foundation provides grants and funding for programs within the district, including the Family Science and Engineering Night shown here, which was recently held at Barkell Elementary School.

HANCOCK — Since the establishment of the Hancock Public Schools Foundation in 1987, the organization has come a long way, according to the President of the Board of Directors Dave Dow.

“When we originally started out with the original members, it was pretty tough,” said Dow. “We were squabbling over $50 to $100 and where we were going to get it, because we didn’t have the revenue at that time. In the early days, we could only afford some of the scholarships that we wanted to be giving out to various students.”

For many years, Gordon Barkell, former superintendent, Ray Kriege, Dr. Janners, Mr. Anderson, a Michigan Technological University professor, and Karen Hubbard were some of the original board members, said Dow and they fought over dollars.

Thanks directly to the generosity of past alumni and friends of the Hancock Public Schools donating fantastic contributions, said Dow, the HPSF is at the point where it spends approximately 5 percent of its budget specifically on what teachers need to enhance the education of the students every year, and, the foundation gives approximately $25,000 to $30,000 in scholarships annually.

The way the foundation is set up is to distribute grants, Dow said. A grant is written by a teacher or a staff member, and is introduced to the Grants Committee. The committee then approves or denies the grant, based on what the committee members feel fills the needs of the students in the district.

A couple of years ago, said Dow, the foundation funded a cross-country ski program for Barkell Elementary School. Principal Dan Vaara said the school now has enough skis for an entire class to use, and the grounds are equipped with a private, groomed cross-country ski trail.

“We funded the cross-country skiing, just to get the kids outside,” said Dow. “You (have to) remember that there is the educational part, but they (the children) have to get out there and exercise. Four walls don’t create a person.”