2015 News

Evening for Education raises the bar

CAPS meets new AUSD administrators with warm welcome


ATASCADERO The Committee for Atascadero Public Schools hosted the ninth annual Evening for Education on Saturday, and a sold-out crowd enjoyed a meal, live and silent auction, casino night, and more as CAPS raised money to deliver on its mission to provide grants to support educational programs for all Atascadero public schools.

CAPS co-chairpersons Kathy Peterson and Lori Bickel raised the bar for the event, and Saturday's fundraiser brought in more than in 2014.

"We made enough money that we will be able to give away $65,000," Peterson said. "Which will bring the total that we have given over $500,000."

Since 2007, CAPS has given directly to Atascadero Unified School District teachers and classrooms to improve the overall education of Atascadero students. After dinner, Jean Sutton, a veteran fifth-grade teacher from San Benito , shared how her experience in the classroom was improved as a result of grants received from CAPS over the years.

Tickets to the dinner were available to the public , and a wide variety of people were on hand for the event teachers, administrators, community supporters, local charity leaders, and more were present for the charitable event.

In December of 2014, the Committee for Atascadero Public Schools joined community organization of Atascadero Greyhound Foundation, and AGF president Wayne Cooper was present at the dinner with his wife Diana.

"I am really glad that the CAPS organization is a part of the Greyhound Foundation," school board member Clickard said. "It really gives us balance as an organization. They fit so well into what we do, and our mission, because it's all about the kids."

The Coopers were seated at a table adjacent to former Atascadero High School Principal Jim Stecher and his wife Janet, and also next to a table with community superstars Keith and Robyn Schmidt is just an example of the excitement the CAPS Evening for Education creates for the support of Atascadero public schools.

"It went really well," Peterson said. "We think we had about 210 people there, and we did really well. People had fun, and enjoyed the evening and the casino."

Among more than 200 attendees, which could all be named as strong supporters of Atascadero schools, were three 2016 community stars County Supervisor Debbie Arnold, school board member Mary Kay Mills, and Marnie Perry. But the evening was not a who's who, but instead was a celebration of the new year of education, a fundraiser to provide much-needed resources to the school district educators, and a chance to see the community of Atascadero in action.

"It's very nice," Peterson said about the support from the community. "We have pretty much the same crew that comes back every year and they just get right to it."

Long-time CAPS volunteer, and Dancing With Our Stars committee member Jeannie Malik echoed Peterson's statement. "What really helped was people from the past came back to volunteer," Malik said. "We had about 35 volunteers. We could not have done it without their support. They rolled up their sleeves and got the job done."

In it's ninth year, the Evening for Education has a strong supporting cast of volunteers that provided all year, as well as for the setup of the event which was threatened when the tablecloths did not arrive.

"On Friday afternoon, we had the Pavilion from 3 to 6 p.m., " Peterson said. "That is when you get everything set up. When we got there, we were told that the table cloths were not there."

Scrambling to find a solution, and finding out that the vendor that was supposed to supply the tablecloths was unable to fulfill the duty, the CAPS crew reached out for help.

"Everybody got on their phones and started calling," Peterson said, "and by 4 p.m. the tablecloths were all on the tables."

Overcoming obstacles through community support rings clearly as the nature of the CAPS Evening for Education

"The community was amazing," Peterson said. "All the sponsors we had, with a few new ones this year. Joanne Rogoff, former San Benito Elementary principal, was our silent auction chair, and got a small committee around and got things, I think we had slightly over 70 items and competitive bidding."

Clickard emceed the event, sharing a lifetime of pride as an educator in the community, and delivering an impressive message that was met with generosity by the attendees of the event.

Rocking the live auction, Clickard and Doug Filipponi helped boost the generous spirit of the sold-out crowd while a list of impressive donated prizes were bid on. "Doug Filipponi and Donn Clickard tagteamed seamlessly," Malik said. "Doug really took the live auction to another level."

One of the outstanding items even enticed the auctioneer, Filipponi, to bid on the item himself. Two premium seats at the 2016 Dancing With Our Stars event were auctioned off for a total of $925, with Filipponi joining in the bidding up to $675.

During the evening, Clickard introduced a handful of "rookies" that have taken new positions with AUSD this year. Starting at the top, Tom Butler entered AUSD as the district's superintendent from the assistant superintendent position at the Lucia Mar School District. Former Atascadero High School Principal E.J. Rossi took the assistant superintendent of educational services position of AUSD, veteran AHS teacher Bill Neely stepped up to fill Rossi's seat as principal of the high school, and Kurt Eichperger followed Butler from Lucia Mar and fills the position of assistant superintendent of human resources for AUSD. "At the school board meeting, I heard the word excited used 29 times after I started counting," Clickard said, "and I think that is what we are feeling throughout the district. We can be really great, and I think under Tom Butler's leadership, we are going to do that."

The 2015 Evening for Education was a fantastic way to welcome Butler to AUSD, and the money raised will go to fulfill needs around the district as he works on moving AUSD into the future.

"The CAPS event was a good welcome to the new Atascadero administrators," Clickard said. "I really had a fun evening. The benefit of course is to our kids."

Aside from raising money, feeding folks, and appreciating the strong community support that shapes Atascadero, the evening was an opportunity to celebrate some of the people and organizations that made significant contributions.

K-Jon's Fine Jewelers and Opolo Vineyards were the event's platinum sponsors, and both made big contributions to the evening's success, and the food served by Pacific Harvest came with high praise. "I applaud Pacific Harvest for an excellent meal," Malik said. "They did an amazing job." The 2015 installment of the CAPS Evening for Education was a resounding success, and the Atascadero school district will have more of what they need to deliver to Atascadero students. For more information on CAPS, or to get involved with the annual event, go to atascaderocaps .org.

CAPS holds successful 'Evening for Education'


Congratulations to the Committee for Atascadero Public Schools (CAPS) for another successful "Evening for Education." I joined Greg and Jeannie Malik at their table, along with Grenda and William Ernst, Doug and Kathy Filipponi, and Donn Clickard.

Donn served as MC for the event, while Doug acted as auctioneer, helping to bring in thousands of dollars from the supporters in attendance.

The committee consisted of the following devoted members: co-chairmen Kathy Peterson and Lori Bickel, Jeannie Malik, Nicole Hider, Joanne Rogoff, Melanie Karp, Robyn Schmidt, and Angie Erb. Glenda Highland and Jerry Tanimoto were in charge of the casino area. Of course, there were many volunteers helping out to keep things running smoothly.

I was impressed with the report that last year CAPS was able to fund over $50,000 in grant requests from educators in the Atascadero schools. Since the first "Evening for Education" in 2007, the group has given away over $435,000 in grants. I haven't heard, but they were hoping to reach over $500,000 with the added income from last Saturday's event.

Pacific Harvest Catering, owned by Seth and Dawn White, and located at the Pavilion, provided a wonderful buffet dinner. I loved those au-gratin potatoes along with everything else that Seth prepares so well. The servers are always "on top" of everything and I appreciate how well they do their job! Thank you all!

Opolo Vineyards was the exclusive winery for the evening. I enjoy their "sparkling" wine and I suggest you try it if you haven't already. Music was provided by a great group of musicians called "The Usual Suspects." They were good and offered a variety for listening and dancing.

CAPS raises funds, and the bar


End of the year science project

Students in Wendy McKeown's class at Atascadero Middle School finished the school year with a memorable assignment, dissecting sheep's eyeballs as part of their science curriculum. The project was made possible by a grant from the Committee for Atascadero Public Schools (CAPS) for $500, which paid for enough sheep's eyes and gloves for the entire 7th grade to take part. Pictured above are students Noah Meade, left, and Julia Smith. At left is James Singewald.

Photos by Luke Phillips/

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