El Molino Education Fund folks 2019

HERE TO HELP —  Steve Griffith, Mallory Lambert Silipo, Mary Bracken, Julie Strehlow, Leslie Grassl, Victoria Wagner and Mary Fricker helped the El Molino Education Fund raise $70,000 this year, saving three classes.

As the West Sonoma County Union High School District has plunged deeper into financial trouble over the last few years, parents at El Molino have stepped up to the plate to keep beloved classes from being cut from the schedule.

The El Molino Education Fund is celebrating the successful conclusion of their 600 Lions fundraiser, which brought in $70,000.

“Our goal was $60,000, and we surpassed that by raising $70,000, so we’re very excited about that,” said Mary Bracken, president of the El Molino Education Fund. “The support from the community has just been wonderful and overwhelming at times. I mean you open up an envelope with a check for $500 in it, and you just want to jump over the moon.”

Bracken said the money will be used to save three classes that were due to be cut from the schedule: advanced French (a combo class of French 2, 3 and 4), dance and Math Support. Math Support is just what it sounds like — a class, taken simultaneously with another math class, that provides support for students who need extra help.

“This is the second year we’ve raised money to keep classes from being cut,” Bracken said. Last year, the group’s fundraising efforts saved dance, French and  woodshop.

“The kind of classes that are in danger of being cut are what I call ‘essential electives,’” Bracken said. “They’re the kind of classes kids really look forward to during their day to break up that headspace of academia and do something a little more for the heart.”

Bracken gave a shout-out to Cotati contractor Boyd Stockham, an El Molino alum, who donated $10,000 last year and more than $20,000 this year. Bracken said he gave them permission to release his name in hopes that it would inspire others to give.

“This is a great opportunity for all of us to give back,” said Stockham, who graduated from El Molino in 1981. “The schools really need our help.”

As for Bracken, a former school teacher, she has recently signed up to do political work with the California Teacher’s Association, working with the legislature to fully fund California schools. 

“My goal is to legislate away the need for this kind of fundraising statewide,” she said.

Until that time, she said she and her friends in the El Molino Education Fund will keep raising money.

“One of the reason why we did this is that high school is the last stop. This is it. If kids aren’t getting the help they need right now, when are they gonna get it? That’s why we’re here. We really want to support what’s happening in this little gem of a school.”

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