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Swinging the golf club in one Southern California community is an educational hole in one for hundreds of students and teachers. The Bonita Unified School District, and the residents of San Dimas, California, look forward every year to one of the area’s most popular events and educational charities. The Ed Jones Memorial Golf Tournament is by far the biggest fundraiser for the La Verne-San Dimas Education Foundation. The foundation’s work contributes directly to all 13 schools in the district, and for the past 10 years that contribution has generated growing community enthusiasm and participation.
Fun Meets Classroom Learning: Hands On History
The Ed Jones Memorial Golf Tournament is fun for the community, but it sets high goals for education. The event averages about $20,000 from the tournament with all the proceeds going to the Bonita Unified School District.
One of biggest academic programs, where these funds help significantly, is Hands On History. Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Nanette Hall explained that this program is far more than just a field trip. Instead, the program serves as a history lesson about the state and one that is a mandatory part of the academic curriculum for all fourth grade students in the district. Students have a full instructional day while visiting Historic California sites like the Rancho Dos Palmas Adobe, an early settler’s area rich in California history.
“They gain a textual, hands on experience of what it was really like in that time period. It is very engaging for the students because they get to experience all these things and not just read about them,” said Hall. There are numerous activities that take place during the program’s duration, including Rancho Days where students actually make foods like tostadas and eat the food that they make. Other activities also take a historical perspective on food and culture.
“At the Indian Camp they grind acorns and make it into a paste. They all eat it and hate how it taste but it helps them understand what the food was like as they study that time period,” said Hall. Students also learn how to hand make jewelry and candles as the Indians did.
They learn how to pan for gold as well as other physical facts of California’s early settlers period through the Gold Rush Program. While learning at places like Rancho Dos Palmas, students actually get their feet muddy during the process of making bricks as it was done for construction during that time period. These different sites become outdoor classrooms revealing the facts of the past, and bringing the required history curriculum alive for students to touch, taste and smell.
Honoring Outstanding Efforts And Achievements
Other parts of the La Verne-San Dimas Education Foundation are special yearly awards for the outstanding efforts by students and teachers. The fifth annual Ed Jones Act of Kindness Award, named after a long-time community volunteer and school board leader, provides among several items, a grant to students who have shown a gesture of goodwill by giving of their time and talents to the community.
The Perseverance Award is an honor given to students who, despite hardships in their lives, persevered and continued to be successful in school. High school seniors are also encouraged to pursue their career goals through the Perseverance Scholarships.
Educators are recognized for their inventiveness. There is also the Teacher Mini Grant that is based on a classroom project that, in part, benefits students and addresses student-classroom needs during the school year.
Golf Tournament History
The La Verne-San Dimas Education Foundation was established in 1983 and the golf tournament was founded 15 years ago. Current Foundation President Chuck Coyne applauds a previous foundation president, Carrin Bouchard, who he says is credited for blowing new life into the Ed Jones Memorial Golf Tournament through her outstanding efforts to generate community support. For the past 10 years the event has continued to spark community excitement for the Bonita Unified School District. The event began with only 44 golfers and today has more than 144 golfers registered to participate.
When asked what keeps this golf tournament a top community charity, Coyne said, “Why the community supports the golf tournament so well is because they appreciate that all the money goes to helping the students directly. We give grants to support the arts for each of the district’s 13 schools. We also give little mini-grants directly to teachers to buy things that are not in the budget, and we provide bus transportation for all the students to participate in the Hands On History program.”
The annual Ed Jones Memorial Golf Tournament is set for May 8, 2015. As golfing enthusiast are polishing their clubs, young people of the Bonita Unified School District are polishing their minds through an educational charity that’s making a difference in one Southern California community.
This story was produced by a writer with Examiner.com for CBS Los Angeles.