Foundation helps Oakdale schools

OAKDALE -- Oakdale Unified School District has a little something extra.

It's not the technology in the classrooms, special programs, musical instruments or the additional books. It's the Oakdale Educational Foundation, which raises the money that helps schools afford participation in extracurricular events and buy additional materials for students.

Like most school districts, specific schools and athletic teams have groups that support them, which are tremendously valuable, said Superintendent Wendell Chun. The foundation, however, supports special requests from teachers districtwide.

"The whole state has gone crazy with testing, so pushing test scores up has been important to the district. The foundation supports the extra things," said Connie Friel, the foundation's vice president.

Schools often go without things such as special books, new microscopes, journalism class equipment and interactive classroom boards. Those who donate to the foundation make sure Oakdale students don't go without, Friel added.

"This town is tremendous. Everyone wants to pitch in and help, so I thought, 'Why don't we have our own foundation?' " Chun said. "This is a way to benefit everyone in the district in different ways."

The foundation was begun four years ago by a group of parents and district faculty.

"Teachers had great ideas they couldn't bring forth into the classroom because those things aren't funded by the district," said Frank Clark, who helped start the foundation.

Since its inception, the group has raised $75,000 to $85,000 a year, Friel said. This year, foundation members hope to raise $100,000. To meet their goal, they are trying something different from the usual benefit dinner.

On Oct. 18, Italian vocalist Pasquale Esposito will sing at The Reata in Oakdale. He'll also appear at Modesto's State Theatre on Oct. 20. Both shows will benefit the Oakdale Educational Foundation.

"We want to bring something unique to the community," Friel said. "It's quite a large endeavor for a small group."

Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at 578-2382 or ehightower@modbee.com.