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EXCEL Foundation fundraiser Saturday

Staff Writer | April 21, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - A now barren patch of playground area at Ramsey Elementary School will soon be buzzing with nature lessons.

They will break ground next week to make way for the school's new outdoor classroom, a project being paid for with a $4,400 grant from the EXCEL Foundation.

Since 1987, the community-based nonprofit foundation has supported teachers and students in the Coeur d'Alene School District by awarding grants to teachers with innovative and creative lesson plans.

"A critical component to how we provide these grants is through our fundraising efforts each year," said Ryan Nipp, EXCEL president. "Our upcoming Reds, Whites and Blues event is an opportunity for individuals to support EXCEL."

The annual spring fundraiser takes place Saturday at the Hayden Lake Country Club. Tickets for the wine-tasting and social are $135 each, and can be purchased by calling 699-5841.

"There has never been a greater need for funding in our school district, and EXCEL is working very hard to do our part," Nipp said. "We hope that community members can join us for this wonderful event that will help make an important impact on our students."

Erica Duncan, the teacher who was awarded the grant for the outdoor classroom project at Ramsey Elementary, said it would not be possible without the EXCEL funds.

"It's going to be a habitat area where kids at Ramsey will be able to observe wildlife," Duncan said. "It's a living laboratory, so to speak."

Since its inception, EXCEL has given out $869,000 to fund teaching projects in District 271.

Last fall, the group awarded 35 grants totaling $65,000.

"Our district is so very fortunate to have the EXCEL Foundation," said Superintendent Hazel Bauman. "For more than two decades, EXCEL grants have benefited every grade level and every subject area, enabling teachers to do innovative and creative projects that otherwise wouldn't be possible. In these tight economic times, EXCEL is more important than ever to bring new and exciting opportunities into our classrooms."

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