The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 11, 2001


Carlisle Education Foundation plans first ’Squito Town Hoe Down

The Carlisle Education Foundation (CEF), famous for the Pig ‘n Pepper Harvest Festival, now in its tenth year, has long been a quiet source of funds for public school needs not covered by the town budget. At a recent get-together to welcome new members, CEF president Jeff Brown outlined some new directions the organization is taking to ensure a continuing stream of funds for the future. Those directions include a teacher appreciation mailing and the new ‘Squito Town Hoe Down to be held at the Hart Barn at Great Brook Farm on May 19. At the meeting Carlisle Schools Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson presented her view of the “state of the schools” for the next few years, and discussed with the CEF team a number of ways the organization can be involved to help make a difference in the education of our children.

Pig ‘n Pepper a major fundraiser

The CEF’s Pig ‘n Pepper Festival, which takes place every Columbus Day weekend, includes music, games, rides, and the only barbecue cook-off contest in Massachusetts sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. Over the years, the Pig ‘n Pepper has raised about $400,000 for the Carlisle Public Schools. However, in both 1998 and 1999, rain limited attendance at the Pig ‘n Pepper, and the event barely broke even.

According to Brown, “It’s difficult for volunteers who spend many weeks preparing for the Pig ‘n Pepper when weather makes the event less than successful. The Pig ‘n Pepper requires the same energy rain or shine. In good years we can expect to raise as much as $100,000, split between Carlisle and Westford, our partner in putting on the event.” Although the Pig ‘n Pepper will continue to be a major CEF event, Brown says the board has been looking to add fundraisers that were less dependent on weather, less volunteer-intensive, and could supply reliable sources of funds into the future. In addition, they felt it was important to involve a new generation of CEF volunteers who could bring new energy and ideas to the organization.

Hoe Down a community event

“When we organized the ‘Squito Town Hoe Down, we were looking for a fun event that would bring the Carlisle community together, raise money for the schools, and get some of the new people in the schools interested in the CEF,” said Hoe Down chairman Lisa Harris. The Hoe Down includes a barbecue dinner by award-winner Redbones of Somerville, a beer-tasting by Concord Junction Brewery, and music by disc jockey TJ Sounds. “The playground seemed an obvious place to dedicate the funds. Many parents are concerned that since the Carlisle Castle Playground was closed in the fall, students have been crowded onto the plaza in front of the school during recess. We hope to raise enough to make repairs so the Castle can be reopened soon.”

Teacher appreciation mailing

The teacher appreciation mailing, sent out recently, is another initiative to raise money for the schools without massive volunteer effort. According to Laura Snowden, the mailing’s coordinator, “The mailing allows parents to recognize a teacher who has made a difference by making a contribution to the CEF in their name. The teachers receive notes indicating that they have been recognized.” To avoid a perception of favoritism, the contributor and amount will be maintained in confidence. A similar mailing has been used by the Concord Education Fund, Concord’s version of the CEF, with significant success.

“When I first arrived in Carlisle in 1991, there were many holes in school programs as a result of a failed override,” says school superintendent Fox-Melanson. “The CEF immediately filled those holes and strengthened the school. Through the years, they have continued to augment school programs, especially in the area of technology. Without the CEF we wouldn’t have many of the things we take for granted. Their support has benefited every child at the school, and I’m very grateful.” She adds, “I look forward to the Hoe Down, and the chance to meet some of the newer parents in the schools. I enjoy get-togethers where I have a chance get to know some people I otherwise only see in passing.”

Summarizes Brown, “The CEF has helped the schools weather some rocky times. When budgets were cut and the library had to be closed, the CEF was instrumental in reopening it. We want to ensure that whatever lies in the future, the Carlisle Schools will always be able

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