With a new executive director in place and new ambitious goals, the Duneland
Education Foundation is gearing up for its next big event.
“Duneland Stars Shine On” will be a variety show featuring the singing,
dancing, and other artistic talents of Chesterton High School alumni. In the
works for more than a year, the show will be June 18 in the CHS Auditorium
at 7 p.m.
The alumni are returning to Chesterton from their various jobs and families
throughout the country, with at least one traveling from California. As DEF
Board President Mike Anton put it: “They got something from CHS, and now
they’re going to give something back to the Duneland Education Foundation.”
The event is part of a renewed focus by DEF not just to continue to support
the Duneland Schools financially through its educational grants, but to
enhance and expand on that level of support.
“We have to maintain the Duneland Difference,” Anton said. “Some people
think we’ve lost the Duneland Difference. We need to get it back.”
And just how to do that includes DEF, which provides grants for projects and
programs proposed by teachers. If any of the Duneland Difference has indeed
been lost, Anton said he thinks it’s because the community has been
distracted by state and local politics, funding cuts, and assigning blame.
What’s needed, he said, is a refocus on what the Duneland Schools do best --
and that includes strong community partnerships with groups such as DEF.
DEF provides funding for teacher professional development and school
projects that either aren’t part of the regular school budget or which used
to be before funding cuts. This year, for example, DEF is doubling its
funding for summer school scholarships, committing $2,000 total to help
families pay the summer school fees. DEF scholarships will provide $100 per
student, with the remaining $25 paid for by the student.
But while the grants are an important part of DEF and will continue, the
foundation intends to do more -- such as its ambitious project to provide
every student with a take-home lap top.
To help guide the foundation in its fundraising and grant programs is newly
hired executive director, Christine Kostbade of Liberty Township. She said
she plans to beef up promotion of the foundation so that more people are
aware of its work, as well as to seek public input as the foundation works
to strengthen its role in the Duneland Schools.
“My job is to take the foundation to the next level,” Kostbade said.
To fund its educational grants, the DEF hosts various fundraisers. While the
most popular may the the annual $10,000 scholarship raffle, the
approximately $3,500 that DEF clears from the raffle is hardly enough to
cover its grant program, which this year is budgeted at $25,000. So DEF
needs to turn to the community with other fundraisers, such as its golf
outing in July and, for the second year in a row, the DEF Derby in August.
Kostbade, a mother of three, is now the third executive director in the
She has worked for nearly 20 years in the mental health field serving
children and adolescents. In the last four years she has been with the
Hilltop Neighborhood House as its marketing coordinator. She is a graduate
of the University of Wisconsin and earned a master’s from Valparaiso
Kostbade said her family moved to the Duneland community from Hobart
specifically because of the Duneland Schools and the rich programming
She said when the DEF director’s job became available, she saw the
opportunity to bring her background in youth and in marketing to a position
aimed at strengthening the local schools.
“It attracted me because I wanted to help make a difference,” she said.
“Stars Shine On”
The June 18 show
is billed as a “Night of Performances and Reunion,” reflecting the fact that
the performers will be CHS alumni. The show is directed by Linda Pauli. The
promotional posters were designed by CHS alumni Emma Helminski, who now
works as a graphic artist in California.
Among those who
have committed to peform so far are: Courtney Brankle, Mikael Bryan, Marissa
Flaxbart, Zach Gipson, David Haro, Mary Herrod, KC Higley, Melissa Kolasa
and Aubry Spanapolous, Tom McClure, Dean Perrine and Jodi Searle, Melanie
Poparad, and Michael Urbano. A number of other performers are pending and
will be announced later.
The acts will be
various, including a piano solo, group dance, and a showing of a documentary
Tickets are $10
for adults, $7 for seniors and $5 for students.
available by calling the foundation at 983-3715 or at the following sites:
CHS, Anton Insurance, 1st State Bank of Porter, 1st Source Bank north and
south locations, and Ace Hardware.