BY CAROL SOUTH
Special to the Record-Eagle
TRAVERSE CITY — Glen Lake Community Schools is stretching $5,000 as far as possible.
The Leelanau County district in December received a Best Buy Community Grant, prompting the 800-student system to develop a plan to boost technology in the arts. The idea is to provide students who otherwise have barriers to participation the ability to access both technology and the arts.
Local voters passed a technology bond last year, and that funding and the grant should allow the Class C school to enhance options for music, drama and art programs. Microphones, enhanced sound equipment, video cameras and other ideas are being assessed and discussed as school staff plan the best way to use the money for student benefit.
The grant's goal also is to bridge the digital divide for students by increasing their access to crucial technology.
"We're using technology to support the arts," said Konrad Molter, secondary principal with Glen Lake Community Schools. "We're looking for multi-faceted support so it's not a one-shot deal."
A new summer drama camp slated for this summer is possible in part thanks to the Best Buy funds. This camp, which will be open to any student --- even summer visitors — will run in June and provide a safe, summer learning environment.
"We're using Best Buy money to promote that and buy equipment," Molter said.
Employee committees guide Best Buy's Community Grants program, reviewing and selecting nonprofit grantees from each of the company's 12 territories within the United States. Local stores sift through applications once a year.
The Best Buy in Traverse City received a dozen applications for the Community Grant. Three met the program's criteria of helping kids in need. The store's employee committee selected Glen Lake's proposal because its specific-vision goals best filled student needs.
"It's a way to give back to the community," said Brian Sawa, general manager of the Best Buy Traverse City. "We have 90 employees here and they're all local, live in the community."
Glen Lake teacher Carla Gipson spearheaded the grant-writing effort, having just completed a class on the topic. Molter said he shares grant invitations with his staff and Gipson was inspired to try for this one, envisioning a way to help both students and the school's art programs.
"She took the initiative and ran with it; that's wonderful," Molter said. "We found out about the grant in December but waited a while until we had a plan."