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Inaugural golf outing to benefit curriculum at Seneca Valley

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

While golf at Cranberry Highlands Golf Course offers athletic challenges, an event planned there also could provide benefits for Seneca Valley schools.

Seneca Valley Foundation will host its first fundraising golf tournament, the Gift of Hope Golf Classic, on Aug. 20. For $175, pros and duffers can enjoy the 18-hole course and dinner, all to benefit school district programs.

The foundation was created in March 2012, months after Tracy Vitale became superintendent. Cuts in state and federal funding the prior year figured into an $11 million gap between revenue and expenses in the district's budget.

“In my 20 years in education, working in urban, rural and suburban environments, I have never seen such drastic cuts to public education as I have seen over the last three years,” Vitale said.

Since coming to the district in 2002 as assistant principal of Seneca Valley Middle School, she has watched the district create quality programs. Vitale said she has set higher goals, but they will be tough to reach with budget constraints.

She has helped to shape the foundation along with 17 trustees, many with business backgrounds. The organization's goal is to bring in extra income to match students' needs. Vitale said she learned through research that public schools in eastern Pennsylvania started nonprofit educational foundations.

“I knew we had supportive communities and successful businesses in our school district, so I began by engaging people who were dedicated and committed to both education and the Seneca Valley community,” she said.

The Cranberry Township Noon Rotary Club pledged $15,000 over three years. The Kerrish Charitable Trust and Seneca Valley Education Association also were founding partners. Other groups and individuals followed.

“There has been an incredible amount of community support,” said Linda Andreassi, Seneca Valley's communications director and a foundation trustee. “This speaks highly of what people think of the district.”

Among the donors are trustees, school board members, teachers, staff, parents, business owners, Seneca Valley alumni, vendors and friends of the district. A gala fundraiser in February raised $13,000.

“There were well over 200 people,” Andreassi said. “We were thrilled at the turnout and the support.”

District programs already have benefited: $3,000 went toward the $100,000 cost of replacing band uniforms; $3,000 went to a STEM Fair — science, technology, engineering and math — to help secondary students with research expenses; and $3,000 was used to help elementary classrooms maintain literacy libraries.

The tournament has been planned since March. Karen Brackett and Beth Zupsic, vice presidents from NexTier Bank, and Dave Clark, president of Double Eagle Promotions in Seven Fields, loaned their event-planning expertise. Andreassi is working with them.

More golfers and sponsors are invited to join the inaugural effort.

“Schools are living in very different economic times,” Vitale said, “and educators must be creative and innovative if we are going to continue to provide children with opportunities and learning resources that will prepare them for a competitive and global economy.”

For more information about the golf outing or Seneca Valley Foundation, visit www.svsd.net and click on the link for the golf classic. Andreassi can be reached at 724-452-6040, Ext. 1612, or at andreassill@svsd.net.

Dona Dreeland is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. She can be reached at ddreeland@tribweb.com.

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