Our History

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The Gill-Montague Education Fund is a non-profit organization established in 1996 by the parents and citizens of the towns of Gill and Montague to support our schools. Its goals are to provide programs and resources for the schools that would enrich the educational opportunities available to students, and to encourage advocacy for public education. The organization went dormant for a few years, when state and federal funding was adequate. In 2004 when the impact of budget cuts meant a reduction or loss in academics, arts, and athletics, a few of the old and new members including school, community, parents, students brainstormed ideas on how to meet both of the GMEF goals.

The decision for an Annual Gala was an event with a variety of performers to span generations. It begins with a community supporting the efforts of the GMEF with advertising, tier-giving and in-kind contributions. It continues as the community is ”enriched’ with quality entertainment within our beautiful theater. Finally, it concludes with the awarding of grants for students throughout the district bringing children’s education to life.

Our Annual Gala has offered an array of performances ranging from a local talent show; the big band sounds of master drummer, Gregory Caputo with his 16 pc Big Band; classical with the legendary Elisabeth von Trapp and cellist, Erik Kory, a cappella with The Zumbyes and The Heart of the Valley; the essence of country with celebrated singer, song-writer Don Campbell and his band; the sound and ”strut’ of the Philadelphia Mummers with the "Aqua String Band"; “The Golden Era of Rock ”n’ Roll” featuring The Memories. This year our Gala will feature celebrity illusionists, "The Edwards Twins" - 2 brothers = 100 stars.

Our Enrichment Grants go beyond the ordinary field trips of skiing and hiking. All elementary schools have participated in environmental programs with the Hitchcock Center, Great Falls Discovery Center and Northfield Mtn. On field trips, students visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; enjoyed a dinner in Paris, a Luau in Hawaii, felt the “Magic Wings” of butterflies, went back in time at Sturbridge Village and our sixth graders participated in a field study offered by Heifer International with a visit to a Global Village in Rutland, MA. Every aspect of their education has been broadened with hands on experience in technology, the wellness center, Nature’s Classroom, culinary arts, all-school plays, and musical instruments. 

Students have encountered a larger world attending the arts— ”The National Acrobats of China; field trips to Boston, a typical American city rich with US history; the ”Museum of Fine Arts’; ”The Sargent Center for Outdoor Education’; a performance of "Rain," by Cirque Eloize; and a ”Broadway Classroom’ — combining a workshop with Broadway musicians with a performance of Phantom of the Opera. 

Beyond their own growth, students have been able to enhance the lives of several communities traveling to Kentucky for 6 days integrating themselves into the community with ”The Appalachia Community Service Trip’; ”The Birthday Squad’ — baking birthday cakes for children living in homeless shelters (The Family Inn of Greenfield, Jesse’s House in Amherst and children of families that utilize the Survival Center); and Sheffield Elementary joined with the Montague Parks and Recreation Department to purchase ”Sheffield Gym Basketball Hoop Height Adjusters’ which not only allows for adjustability of the basketball hoops to fit the various sizes of the students in grades 1-5, but also helps the MPRD in their offerings of youth programs

 

As a member of the Gill-Montague Educational Fund Board of Directors, I have discovered an opportunity to invest in the future, make a difference on the lives of children, choose positive actions and take on a responsibility that has given me the privilege of serving our youth.   
Joyce A. Phillips, Executive Producer of The Annual Gala.

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