The Rockford Education Foundation (REF), a non-profit and independent organization, serves the Rockford community by funding educational grants. The REF holds different fundraisers throughout the year in order to raise money to support educational opportunities. Each year the REF funds over $60,000 in grants. Recently, Sue Arend, REF Administrator, discussed the foundations fundraising efforts. “The foundation has an ongoing fundraising campaign titled Brick By Brick – Laying a Foundation for the Future.” said Arend. “This campaign began in the fall of 2010 in conjunction with Rockford Public Schools Hall of Fame.” The Hall of Fame was created to honor men and women from the Rockford Public Schools community who have reached a high level of achievement, and/or contributed generously to service work, both locally and globally. A six foot tall black granite monument was created to commemorate the inductees. Every two years a new class will be inducted and their names will be engraved on the monument. The REF is selling brick pavers that can be engraved with a personal message. These bricks are part of the patio that surrounds the Hall of Fame monument, located at the Fine Arts Entrance of Rockford High School. The brick pavers are a perfect gift idea for this time of year. An engraved brick paver is a gift that lasts and commemorates all of the important occasions in life: Graduation, Mother’s Day, Birthdays, and Father’s Day. It would also be great for an end of the year teacher or coach appreciation gift. The Bricks are 4×8 and cost $75.00. If you are interested in ordering a brick to commemorate your special occasion you can contact the REF at (616) 863-6317 or visit the REF website www.rockfordschools.org/ref. You can also find REF on Facebook.
Rockford Public Schools Hall of Fame
It was a ceremony unlike any other for Rockford Public Schools and the impact will continue on for generations. From Friday, October 1 with a monument dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony on through Sunday, October 3 with a farewell brunch, Rockford Public Schools recognized ten special people. Several came from different countries for the first Rockford Public Schools Hall of Fame induction ceremony and the related events. Rockford alumni or residents were selected from four categories for this recognition. A six-and-a-half-foot-tall monument now graces the front of Rockford High School with the names of the ten inductees. There is space on the stone for nearly 80 more years of inductions, which will take place every other year. “This was fantastic,” said Rockford Public School Superintendent Dr. Michael Shibler, one of the inductees. He referred to the day of interacting with Rockford students by the inductees which took place Friday throughout the district. The event was 14 months in the making and came with help from a similar program offered by Grand Haven Public Schools. Lisa Jacobs of Rockford Community Services and Jill Erickson from Rockford Education Foundation have been working with a committee for the Hall of Fame and the committee had the difficult job of choosing the initial inductees. Dr. Ryan Kelley, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, worked with an advisory council over the summer, making sure all inductees met the criteria for recognition. The inductees include people from all over the country, who traveled here from throughout the world. The categories are Cultural/Performing Arts, Academic/Career Accomplishments, Service to the Community, Service to Rockford Public School/Community and Honorary. Neil Blakeslee, former Rockford mayor and his late father, Clarence, were among the first inductees. “I feel humbled by the company I’m keeping with this group,” Neil said. He said others in the community deserve the award as much as he. “Dad’s is a posthumous recognition. I’m glad mine isn’t,” he joked. Watch the Squire for photos and bios of each of the inductees.