Holly Academy Celebrates 20 Years with Fundraising Gala Nov. 10

Holly Academy Celebrates 20 Years with Fundraising Gala Nov. 10

(Mel Corrigan, Oct. 3, 2018)

Holly, MI- Are you feeling generous and looking for a fun-filled evening at one of Holly’s most adored, new-again establishments? If so, you’re in luck!

The Holly Academy Education Foundation (HAEF) is hosting a fundraising Gala on November 10 at the Holly Vault in downtown Holly. The goal to raise $20,000 for its endowment in celebration of Holly Academy’s 20 years of inspiring excellence. Twenty-thousand dollars seems like a lot of money to raise in one evening, especially in a small community like Holly, Michigan. What inspired such a goal in the first place?

HAEF “expands educational opportunities for Holly Academy students by generating financial assets to achieve current and future academic goals,” and achieves that mission with the $100K+ endowment raised by its founding members over the past 7 years. HAEF granted more than $30,000 to teachers over the past six years and is eager to grow its capacity in conjunction with celebrating the school’s 20th anniversary and the school’s reputation of excellence.

Special Education Director Jennifer Burns has been with Holly Academy from the start. “When we first started in 1999,” she said, “we had a vision that all children would be successful in and out of the classroom.” And the school has achieved that. Holly Academy is a School of Excellence, consistently performs in the top 10% of school districts in the state of Michigan and its students excel outside of the classroom as well. Extracurricular activities range from chess club to symphonic band and the academy arts ensemble to sports teams in volleyball, basketball, soccer and cross-country, and more. Holly Academy’s own Anika Guru is the 14th Michigan State Charter School spelling bee champ (who won the sixth-to-eight grade division). It’s good to be a Husky!

And if that’s not convincing enough of the school’s success, take it from former students. According to Jennifer Potteiger, Curriculum Director, “Having our alumni choose to send their children to a school that provided them their foundation in education is the biggest compliment we could receive!”

When asked what makes Holly Academy unique both as a charter school and a public school, Julie Kildee, Director, explained respectively: “We are among 15% of Michigan charter schools that are self-managed, and we put a major emphasis on character development.” A self-managed charter school is led by a volunteer board of directors and an administration responsible for allocating state-funding to operate the school, comprehensively (including salaries, benefits, operations, educational resources, etc.), whereas most (85% of) charter schools are managed by for-profit Educational Service Providers (ESPs). A focus on character is achieved through a school culture that fosters citizenship, which comprises behavioral elements (related to responsibility, respectfulness, teamwork and safety) on which students are graded each marking period.

But it doesn’t end there.

Holly Academy’s 34-acre campus is home to “…three distinct habitats: woodlands, pond and meadow”, Mrs. Kildee boasted. “Science students observe [them] to learn about ecosystems and other natural phenomena. Garden club students grow salsa ingredients over the summer and help maintain flower beds around the school. The horticulture middle school elective class maintains the apple orchard, grape vines, and the flower beds around the campus. Both garden club and horticulture classes focus on organic gardening, plant care and identification.” The playground and outdoor basketball courts are well-utilized by students at outdoor recess, which all students enjoy daily, except in rain or temperatures below twenty degrees (Fahrenheit).

Competent and engaging staff, top-notch academics and beautiful campus aside, Holly Academy offers relationships and a community that extends beyond the classroom. Mrs. Pottieger proudly explained, “We live our mission statement every single day; we help students achieve academic success through a positive family/school/community partnership.” Mrs. Kildee said both administration and staff work very hard to foster a “family feel”. And this is accomplished through various mechanisms: parent volunteer opportunities in and out of the classroom, parent education sessions and Coffee & Conversation about every other month where administrators share information with parents in a casual setting and engage in open dialogue. Furthermore, teachers nurture “the whole child,” (social, emotional, physical and academic) with activities such as Fall on the Farm, March is Reading Month, resources and training on emotional intelligence and student field trips.

Surely no school is perfect. The staff at Holly Academy refuse to become complacent. Ken Kander, Director of Finance and Operations, said it best, “Our vision is to make our best efforts even better and to make our strengths even stronger.” The proceeds from the 20th Anniversary Gala will play a role in supporting that vision.

To learn more about Holly Academy, check out this video, visit their website or FB page, or call 248-634-5554. One can buy tickets, become a sponsor or learn more about the Holly Academy’s 20th Anniversary Gala by clicking on the associated links or contacting Marlena Bravender at Marlenabravender@gmail.com.

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