School event: Chance to honor lasting legacies

GREENFIELD — With the current challenges in education, it’s sometimes difficult to remember to celebrate the success stories of those who have worked to make schools great — and out of that sentiment, the annual Red Letter Gala was born, organizers say.

The gala, a fundraising dinner hosted by the Greenfield Central School Foundation, provides that opportunity to the community. Set for Sept. 19, the event presents a chance to share the accomplishments of Greenfield-Central teachers and alumni who have left lasting legacies on the district.

“It’s not only a celebration but also a chance to connect the community to the classroom,” said Ginny Brown, who is in her first year as executive director of the foundation. “We want people to see the incredible work our teachers are doing and get a chance to lend some support.”

The foundation operates as a nonprofit organization that raises funds to meet the immediate needs of teachers and students and acts as a gateway for private community donors who want to support Greenfield-Central programs and scholarships.

At the gala, set to begin at 5:30 p.m. downtown in the Creative Arts and Event Center, guests will be invited to contribute to the foundation’s Wish Upon a Star program, which presents teacher wish lists for classroom projects and gives community members a chance to pledge their support to make those projects possible.

As part of the program, Greenfield-Central teachers are encouraged to submit requests for supplies that aren’t funded by the schools but can enhance classroom instruction.

Districtwide, the foundation received 162 requests this year, ranging from flashcards to specialized technology, which attendees can volunteer to pay for, Brown said.

“We know our teachers do everything they can to help students in class, but if the community buys in and helps support some of these additional activities and programs, our teachers can do so much more,” said Becky Riley, longtime foundation board member and an organizer for the event.

One of the highlights of the gala, which includes dinner and live entertainment, is the announcement of foundation’s hall of fame inductees.

Seven alumni will be honored at this year’s foundation. Past recipients include Sally Draper Zoll, CEO of United Through Reading, an international nonprofit committed to maintaining connections between children and parents who have been deployed for military service, and Wayne Leonard, CEO of Entergy Corp., a company striving to address climate change issues.

Several current staff members and teachers will be honored at the event with awards and grants to recognize achievement and excellence across the district.

Harold Olin, Greenfield-Central superintendent and a board member of the foundation since its inception in 2011, said the gala provides the time necessary to celebrate the district’s achievements, both past and present.

“We want to recognize that public schools are doing some things that are empowering young people to achieve great things,” Olin said. “I think it’s certainly a worthy cause to reflect on those achievements and take notice.”

If you go

If you’re interested in attending the Red Letter Gala or donating to the Greenfield Central School Foundation, visit Tickets cost $50, and organizers say they’re almost sold out.

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Daniel Morgan is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (317) 477-3228 or