By Kelsey Ligon
The Zionsville Education Foundation held its 20th anniversary celebration gala Nov. 14 to mark two decades of supporting classroom development. Since forming in 1995, ZEF has given more than $850,000 in grants to Zionsville Community Schools administrators, teachers and students for enrichment, classroom support and professional development.
“The thing I love about ZEF is that they give to everyone,” said Shari Alexander Richey, ZCS board of trustees president and emcee of the gala.
The celebration began in the Simon Reading Room at the Central Library in downtown Indianapolis. The room’s sweeping marble staircases, elegant chandeliers and hundreds of books subtly reminded guests of a rich past of education. The celebration then moved into the more modern atrium, representing ZEF’s bright outlook for the future, according to Tracy Phillips, the executive director of ZEF.
In addition to encouraging guests to celebrate and socialize, the ZEF gala continuously reminded them of the students the organization serves. ZEF invited two Zionsville seniors, Michael DeBrota and Danielle McKnight, to perform a brief preview of the Zionsville Community High School musical production of “Pippin.” It also auctioned off items of great interest to ZCS parents, including prime parking passes and extra tickets for graduation.
The keynote speaker for the evening, Rich Harwood, focused on how communities impact schools. Harwood is the founder of the Harwood Institute, which helps communities across the country come together to solve problems. He particularly emphasized the need for people to “come out of their homes and work together.”
Harwood has developed the campaign, “Reclaiming Main Street,” which encourages conversations about best practices for making communities better.
Guest Diane Bakaysa of Zionsville explained why she attended the gala.
“If you don’t invest in what’s working, it might not always be around,” she said.