• School's fundraising paying big dividends


    As many public schools struggle with budget cuts one Orange County elementary school is working to raise its own money.

    Fern Creek Elementary School has managed to achieve a high level of academic success year after year, despite a high poverty rate and a large percentage of homeless students.

    Aja Fischer,9, said she is lucky to be in a class where her teacher uses a smart board to show inspiring video that brings lessons to life.

    "We just had a projector, and now you're able to do math games, reading lessons," said Aja.

    Some of Aja's classmates are homeless,  and some of the children's parents who do have homes don't have enough money to do laundry, much less to make a healthy dinner.

    "When you live in that kind of situation, it is hard to feel safe," said school principal Patrick Galatowitsch.

    Galatowitsch is working to make sure children at his school feel cared for.

    Last year, Orlando business leaders Ford Kiene of City Beverages and Jennifer Quigley of WBQ Engineering donated $5,000 for the school's food pantry.

    This year they donated $16,000 to buy smart boards for the third, fourth, and fifth grade classrooms.

    Galatowitsch said the community's long-term investment in Fern Creek is having a big academic payoff. The school has received an A or B grade for the past eight years.

    Now Galatowitsch is setting his sights on raising $100,000 so all of his students can have access to smart boards, and perhaps even Kindle e-readers.

    "As these resources pour into our school, they feel special and important," said Galatowitsch.

    Aja said there is a lesson in all of this.

    "That pretty much anything is possible," said Aja.

    Fern Creek is holding a silent auction fundraiser Wednesday evening from 5:30 to 6:30 at Leu Gardens in Orlando.

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