Annual fundraiser supports Enumclaw's all-day kindergarten effort

As parents whose children have benefited from the Enumclaw School District’s full-day kindergarten program, Aaron Brenner and his wife believe all kids should have the opportunity to attend full-day kindergarten and wanted to help make that happen. So Aaron, owner of Aaron Brenner’s Bakery in Enumclaw, is donating a baking class for the Enumclaw Schools Foundation’s fifth annual fundraiser.

The "All Children – All Day, Let’s Find A Way!" dinner and auction is planned for April 13.

“We wanted that for our kids, full-day kindergarten,” Brenner said. “The value of the program is great. I believe it’s a good program.

Through state funding, the Enumclaw School District was able to provide full-day kindergarten free to all children between 2003 and 2009. Then, state funding cuts forced the district to return to half-day kindergarten with a paid full-day option, but many kindergartners who could most benefit from a full-day program where left out of the loop.

Staff and community members rallied by raising $75,000 at the first dinner/auction benefit, providing 30 full-day kindergarten scholarships and saving three teaching positions. Each year since, the dinner and auction has raised enough money to keep a full-day kindergarten classroom at each of the district’s five elementary schools and provide the educational continuity started in 2003.

“The work the full-day kindergarten committee has done these past 10 years is an incredible blessing,” Superintendent Mike Nelson said. “I believe this has allowed us to keep the integrity and legacy of this incredible program alive. Their work and the money raised to support full day kindergarten has truly been a gift to the students of this district.”

The dinner and auction raises more than $60,000 a year, providing 25 to 30 scholarships, continuing to move the program forward, and each year, organizers pray the state will restore full-day kindergarten funding so scholarships will no longer be necessary.

However, 2013 is not that year, so "All Children – All Day, Let’s Find A Way!" is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. in the Expo Center fieldhouse. Tickets are $35 and available by visiting Donations also may be made through the website.

Enumclaw’s Rotary organization has already stepped up, donating $10,000, which will provide four scholarships. Rotary has supported the program with a similar donation each year for the past decade.

Brenner’s donation, a class for six bakers, will be a one of several live auction items. Others include a Chandler Reach wine tasting, Mariners baseball tickets, a Sounders soccer package, a barbecue for 30, and a special evening out planned by Nelson.

“This concerted effort gives me hope that one day, hopefully soon, we will have full-day kindergarten for all kids again,” Nelson said. “But, until then, as a result of the committee’s effort, when the funding returns from the state, we will be able to move forward at a much faster pace.”

Black Diamond helping the cause

The Black Diamond PTA and Black Diamond teachers will be serving up fun and food from 5 to 8 p.m. April 3 at the Maple Valley McDonald’s to raise money for the Enumclaw Schools Foundation’s "All Children – All Day, Let’s Find A Way!" full-day kindergarten fundraiser. Last year the group raised more than $1,000.

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