In 2020, a devoted group of Susquenita School District residents and alumni took on a challenge that seems crazy in hindsight. Why would anyone ask for money in the middle of a pandemic and its related recession?
But since June of last year, the Susquenita Blackhawk Foundation has been engaged in raising money to support the academic and extra-curricular activities of the district’s students and teachers. And it has been gaining ground toward that mission by offering scholarships in 2021, supporting science and technology programs, and continuing to buy equipment and supplies for the district’s student organizations.
“We had three founders, a mountain of paperwork and no money,” Dr. John Rubisch said about the foundation’s start. “I’d say we’re doing real well.”
Rubisch is a member of the foundation’s board, as well as a school board member and a retired long-time faculty member at the district.
Since last year, the programs have included college in high school and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in elementary school, as well as monetary donations for various scholarships, support actions or purchases for the district.
College in high school allows students to take college-level courses during their normal school semester and receive both graduation and college credits. The foundation financed the classes for about five students on free or reduced lunches, Rubisch said.
STEM in elementary school is a computer coding and robotics club where students learn about building and programing robots. The program also utilized Wonder League Robotics competition, Girls Who Code, and the First Lego League.
In 2021, the foundation also gave five scholarship awards to graduating seniors, “COVID combat pay” to the district’s staff in the form of gift certificates to Mutzabaugh’s Market, bought masks for the choir, and continues to plan for more programs in the future.
“We’re all just trying to get through the years,” Rubisch said before the school year was out.
What happens in the future, including talks of dual enrollment classes with colleges, will largely be up to school staff and what they want to build opportunities for students, Rubisch said.
The foundation continues to engage community members and alumni for fundraising and other ideas. It’s planning a 5k fun run and walk closer to Veterans Day in November.
For more about the foundation, how to help or donate, visit the foundation’s website.