SPARTA, N.J.- “The snow hasn’t stopped us,” said Sparta Education Foundation Board Member Nancy Purnell.

The organization held its Casino Night at the Lake Mohawk Country Club on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 6:30 p.m. where attendees braved the cold and icy weather to show their support.

“My kids went to Sparta High School and I just wanted to support them. They are in their 30’s and 40’s now, but I wanted to support education,” said Linda Ingala. “I realized I didn’t have to enter the “Principal for a Day” drawing, but these items are gorgeous. It’s going to be a fun night.”

Sign Up for E-News

 Among the approximately 56 tricky tray items available to be won were a hand signed hockey stick signed by the New Jersey Devils Travis Zajac, Tiffany and Company Jewelry, a Nexus 7 tablet, certificates to J. Thomas Jewelers and Krogh’s, wine baskets, tickets to the Sparta High School and eighth grade graduations, and a chance to be Principal for the Day at each Sparta District School. There were also silent auction items which included framed photography, many from local student artists, and sterling silver CZ jewelry. The event also featured music, food and drink and, of course, gambling.

The Lake Mohawk Country Club looked every bit a casino from the Las Vegas strip; from Caribbean Stud Poker and Roulette to Blackjack and Let It Ride, there was a game for everyone in the improvised casino.

“I am feeling lucky, this is a great event,” said Sparta Deputy Mayor Molly Whilesmith. “My coat check number and auction number are the same which seems lucky, so I’m looking to play Roulette.”

Glitz and glamor aside, the important part of the event was to raise money for Sparta District Schools through the Sparta Education Foundation. The foundations mission is to raise funds that will enable them to make ongoing charitable contributions that enrich the educational experience of children in the Sparta Public Schools, and to promote pride and positive awareness in the Sparta Public Schools. Their vision is to engage the entire community in philanthropic giving that strengthens our public schools, supports our teachers and inspires our s

“We raise money to support things the school budget can’t support, especially with the crunch we’ve had in the last few years. We have fundraisers like the Turkey Trot and Casino Night, and that money goes right back to the schools. Teachers write grants and the grants are reviewed, they have to fit into the curriculum, and then we approve those grants and give the money back to the schools,” said Don Cutshall, President of the Sparta Education Foundation.

“We support the robotics class and all of the photographs out there were printed on printers that we provided and we funded the sculpture garden and amplification systems in the grade schools," Cutshall continued. "We’ve funded about 25 different projects that have totaled about $360,000, and we’re closing in on half a million dollars raised, so it has been good. It gives you a good feeling when you go out and see the students using things that you’ve supplied and the teachers and kids are excited, it is well worth the time and effort.”

It was made clear that the foundation, and the school district, enjoy working closely together, and that everything they do is for the betterment of students, teachers and the Sparta community.

“I want to thank on behalf of the entire school district, all of our students and all of the staff, the Sparta Education Foundation and all of their volunteers and their tireless efforts in providing a special education for our students,” said Sparta's Superintendent of Schools Dennis Tobin in his welcoming address. “They’ve raised over the years about a half a million dollars and at this point right now, approximately $375,000 have been awarded to our students and staff in the way of grants, resources, equipment and programming to once again enhancing our education programs and our overall goal of providing the best education possible for our students. Thank you all for coming out and supporting our school district and I wish everyone an enjoyable and lucky evening.”

With the strong support of the Sparta community no luck was needed to make the Casino Night a success.

For more information on the Sparta Education Foundation and their work, click here to visit their website. 


Follow The Alternative Press of Sussex County for Sussex County News, as well as The Alternative Press of Sussex County's Facebook Page, for news, and other information.