The sounds of Kenny Chesney and Jimmy Buffet echoed throughout the Woodland Park Community Center, as hundreds of guests sampled beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvres, all in the name of a good cause at the second annual Portage Brewfest.
The event, which is generously supported and hosted by the Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce, aims to raise money for the Portage Township Education Foundation (PTEF), which will then turn that into grants for educators in Portage Township to use to further develop new ideas and tools to benefit the students.
“We award these grants based on a scoring rubric,” Shannon Pierce, President of the PTEF said. “But we like the new, innovative and up-and-coming ideas. Things that are going to challenge the students of our district, but at the same time educate them and encourage them to think outside the box.”
Outside the box learning, like allowing kids to step out of the classroom and into more experiential, hands-on learning.
“I love what Brewfest does for the students,” Cheryl Oprisko, Schoolboard President for Portage Township Schools told Ideas In Motion Media. “These grants have allowed kids to do everything from learning about democracy and giving speeches, to planting gardens. It can really be any idea as long as it is tied to curriculum.”
Ticket sales to enter the building provided the backbone for the fundraising, but the PTEF also added in some fun raffle items to sweeten the pot, and live and silent auction items as well, which guests looked over while chatting with each other and working their ways around the room.
Two of the big live auction items were a pair of Chicago Blackhawks tickets, and lunch with one of our previous Life In The Spotlights, Captain Ross Haynes of the Portage Police Department.
Of note, the Captain went for more money than the tickets.
In the end, though, while the Captain may have won the battle with the Blackhawks, the true winners of the evening will be the kids, who will reap the rewards of the adults' great time tonight in just a matter of weeks.
“All this money we make tonight,” Pierce added, “will be awarded at the next schoolboard meeting on May 26. So the money raised tonight will be back in the teacher’s hands in only six weeks.”
And with the money in the hands of Portage’s great teachers, the hope is these grants will lead to new teaching ideas that can help kids learn and grow for generations to come.
And that’s something we can all raise a glass to.