Saturday, March 1
Montage Laguna Beach

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SchoolPower’s 29th Annual Dinner Dance, held March 1st, 2014, netted over $225,000 for Laguna Beach schools.

The event, which drew over 300 guests to Montage Laguna Beach, dedicated a portion of the evening to raising money for an initiative selected at the recommendation of district leaders. This year’s Fund-a-Need, “Xtremely iNteractive,” requested Apple iPads, Apple TVs and Google Chromebooks and advances a long-term goal to create high-tech, interactive classrooms.

“Last year’s Fund-a-Need upgraded the district’s wireless network and allowed the increased use of classroom technology at all four schools,” said SchoolPower President Lynn Gregory. “We now have the infrastructure in place to take the next step with these new tools.”

The crowd raised paddles and pledged over $140,000 for this year’s Fund-a-Need, including an especially impactful and inspiring donation by Holly and David Wilson. In addition to their many contributions to the event, the Wilsons generously committed $37,880 to purchase Apple TVs and large screen monitors.

Via a video, "What Does a 21st Century Classroom Look Like?", the audience heard from Laguna's teachers about changes on local school campuses. "It's been really exciting to integrate technology into the classroom so much more this year," said Sarah Schaeffer, a Thurston Middle School English teacher. "Obviously, the end goal is not just technology for technology's sake. Students need these skills to be successful 21st century learners."

"When we are able to use technology, it is some of the highest engagement we have with our students," said El Morro teacher Greg Togawa. "They're focused. They're motivated. They want to learn."

Robin Rounaghi, SchoolPower’s executive director, said that the Fund-a-Need goal coalesced nicely with the event theme “Sowing the Seeds,” as the investment in technology “starts something that promises a great future impact. “

Event co-chairs Amy Kramer and Nina Langton took the back-to-basics ideal of “Sowing the Seeds” to heart and enlisted talented parents to craft the dinner dance’s environmentally conscious décor. Succulents, wood and copper – even branches salvaged from the back of a landscaping truck – created an atmosphere that was serenely beautiful.

“We are a grassroots organization made up of parents just trying to raise money and grow something great,” said Kramer. “The fundamental idea of our organization is raising money for our schools, which can then lay the groundwork for students and give them the opportunity to be successful.”

In an added highlight of the evening, Rounaghi introduced a film honoring Ron LaMotte, Top of the World Elementary School’s principal who will retire at the end of the school year. The crowd was quick to rise to their feet and give LaMotte a standing ovation.

Click here to watch the 2014 Fund-a-Need “What Does a 21st Century Classroom Look Like?” video by Thurston Middle School teacher Andy Crisp, or to contribute.

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