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Educational Opportunity Fund of the Lake Placid CSD

June 6, 2019
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - When people have dinner at Mr. Mike's Pizza on Thursday, June 13 during the Eat for Education event, they may not know they'll be helping local students with educational opportunities that wouldn't be available without the existence of the Educational Opportunity Fund for the Lake Placid Central School District.

Known by board members as the "Ed Op Fund," this program was created several years ago. It has probably raised about $50,000 and given away close to $30,000 in grants to teachers and students, according to LPCSD Superintendent Roger Catania, who is an adviser for the Fund.

"I've just seen a lot of energy and enthusiasm injected into our school district really recognizing that there is this gap in the different opportunities that our kids can access," Catania said. "And this wonderful group of people volunteers, identifying how they can help fill that gap and then going out and making a difference."

Article Photos

From left, Lake Placid Central School District Superintendent Roger Catania and Educational Opportunity Fund of the LPCSD co-chairs Mary Dietrich and Sibyl Quayle pose Sunday, June 2 at the Lake Placid Community Day and Picnic at the North Elba Showgrounds.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

Catania and the Ed Op Fund's co-chairs - Mary Dietrich and Sibyl Quayle - sat down with the Lake Placid News Sunday, June 2 during the Lake Placid Community Day and Picnic at the North Elba Showgrounds to talk about the Fund and how it helps students.

The Ed Op Fund is administered through the Adirondack Foundation, and three categories of grants are distributed to teachers and students.

The are teacher innovation grants. If teachers have ideas they would like to introduce to their classrooms, but there is some cost involved, they can apply and the Fund may be able to provide a grant to offset or cover the cost.

"We also have student grants," Dietrich said, "where if a student has a community project - an idea that the community can really benefit from - they can apply for funds from us and we can help them initiate that."

Then there are individual grants. For example, if a student wants to take a course for college credit but can't afford the fees, the Fund may be able to cover those costs.

"I really love what the Opportunity Fund is doing," said Quayle, a former teacher. "I think there are some gaps in the opportunities that our kids have. We have kids from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, and it isn't always equal. So I think if we can level that playing field, it's going to make a huge difference to our students."

Some of the teachers have been very creative when it comes to their innovation grants, according to Catania. For example, a middle school math class developed a field trip to visit the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City.

"It was the kids identifying that as a need, and then sharing what they learned with other students," Catania said. "We also had teachers come up with other ideas. Some of them are quirky but really great, like different kinds of alternative seating so maybe students that fidget a lot in class can find an outlet for their fidgeting. ... We find kids who sometimes find a small amount of money is causing a big obstacle in their lives to be able to overcome that obstacle with that kind of help."

Some taxpayers may wonder - as they're thinking about their annual school tax bill - isn't the school district supposed to be covering the cost of education at the LPCSD?

"The answer is yes they do, to a certain extent," said Dietrich, a former president of the LPCSD Board of Education. "But what we focus on is going beyond what the school can provide. There are limited resources for the schools."

As an example, Dietrich said there was a need to introduce some students to college who may not think college is an option. They simply haven't had any experience with college, so they don't know what it's like.

"So what we've done is gone to some teachers and say, 'How can we help bridge that gap?'" Dietrich said. "And they've come up with a plan to take students on a field trip to visit college campuses, to tour the campuses, have a meal on the college campus, to experience an event on the college campus, to really get a feel for what life is like."

The school district can provide transportation that allows that field trip to happen, but it doesn't have the money to pay for the other costs associated with the trip.

"So what we may have are some students from that group that go, who have never even thought about college, say 'Well, this sounds like something I'd like to try.' And then we can really maybe pair them with somebody that can help them through that process," Dietrich said.

There are two upcoming events that will benefit the Educational Opportunity Fund for the Lake Placid Central School District. The first is Eat for Education from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 13 at Mr. Mike's Pizza & Italian Kitchen, 2742 Main St., Lake Placid. Take-out and delivery is available. The other is the Whiteface Club & Resort Happy Heart 5K on Saturday, July 6, with proceeds shared by the Ed Op Fund and the American Heart Association.

Donations can also be made by check to the Adirondack Foundation, mailed to PO Box 288, Lake Placid, NY 12946 - write "Ed Op Fund" in the memo line - or online at



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