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Chatham Education Foundation Awards $19,300 Grant To Acquire STARLAB Portable Planetarium

The Chatham Education Foundation, a leading provider of private funding to the School District of the Chathams, today announced that it has awarded a $19,300 grant to acquire a STARLAB® Portable Planetarium, a mobile planetarium designed to encourage students’ interest and understanding of Astronomy. The planetarium will be used by students in the Lafayette, Milton Avenue, Southern Boulevard and Washington Avenue Schools. The grant request was submitted by Lafayette School Principal Cheryl Caggiano, Milton Avenue School Principal Marion McCarthy, Southern Boulevard School Principal Ralph Pesapane and Washington Avenue School Principal Mary Quigley.

Including this grant, the Chatham Education Foundation has awarded four grants totaling $32,000 for the 2012-2013 academic year.

 “This grant to acquire the STARLAB Portable Planetarium will provide e students from four different schools the opportunity to learn about Astronomy from the convenience of their own schools,” said Colleen Markley, President of the Chatham Education Foundation. “It’s also an excellent example of the collaborative efforts of our school Administrators to secure funding to acquire creative educational programs that benefit students throughout the District.”

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Washington Avenue School Principal Mary Quigley, speaking on behalf of the school Principals who submitted the grant, said, “On behalf of our students and staff  I would like to thank the Chatham Education Foundation for providing the funds for procuring our own STARLAB® for our District to enhance our students' knowledge of Astronomy and Literature connections. This learning tool provides many more opportunities that will enable a planetarium experience without the need of funding additional field trips, which will maximize instructional time in our school year. Thank you for helping us to have an impact on more students in our District."

Other grants awarded by the Chatham Education Foundation during the 2012-2013 academic year include:

Chatham Middle School Netbooks

·         Chatham Middle School Principal Robert Accardi, and 8th grade English teachers Lisa McTague and Carmela Zack received a grant to acquire 16 Netbooks that will be utilized by students throughout the school and will promote and enhance writing across the curriculum.

CHS Theatre Lighting Technology and Design

·       Chatham High School (CHS) Theatre Director Lynn Polan arranged for the CHS theater students, actors and crew members to learn about the technology and artistry of theatrical lighting by working with a professional lighting designer. The lighting designer will also work with students to design and implement the lighting for the spring musical, Legally Blonde. This grant represents a truly exciting opportunity for students to learn directly from a professional and put their learning to use in their own musical production!

Destination Imagination

·         Lafayette Avenue School fourth grade students in Justin Perinotti’s classes will be completing fun and engaging activities designed by Destination ImagiNation, Inc. Teams of students will compete in challenges that require them to build, engineer and perform tasks with sets of provided materials to accomplish an initiative. In addition to strengthening science and math skills, students involved with this program will also learn that communication, problem solving and flexibility are critical to success.

During the 2011-2012 academic year, the Foundation distributed $66,000 in grants, which funded 26 innovative and creative educational programs and special projects throughout the School District of the Chathams.

Individuals interested in learning more about the Chatham Education Foundation, or financially supporting its efforts, are encouraged to visit


The Starlab System is a teaching aid geared toward astronomy. It is composed of a dome made out of opaque vinyl, and a projector, which displays images on the inside of the dome. The projector produces bright light, which is fully adjustable by the user. The images are produced using Starlab cylinders, which are made out of film. The film used is entirely opaque, except for the portions where the images are. In this way, all the light from the projector is blocked except what is needed to create images. A major advantage of the film is that it affords nearly infinite contrast ratios.

About The Chatham Education Foundation 

The Chatham Education Foundation is a leading provider of private funding to the School District of the Chathams. It supports innovative and creative educational programs and special projects that are designed to enrich the mind and body of the estimated 4,100 K-12 students enrolled in the District’s six public schools. Since its inception in 1997, the Foundation has distributed more than $600,000 to develop and support more than 275 educational programs, special projects and equipment.

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