2017-12-06 / News

Christmas celebration to help send North Branch students to space camp

810-452-2601 • npugliese@mihomepaper.com

NORTH BRANCH — On Friday, Dec. 8, the North Branch area community will be using an annual Christmas celebration to send a handful of hardworking students to space (or the next best thing).

The 15th Annual Old Fashioned Family Christmas Auction and Fundraiser on Friday, Dec. 8 from 6-8 p.m. at the Ruth Fox Elementary gymnasium will raise funds for North Branch Area Schools (NBAS)’s yearly sojourn to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. Each year, selected 5-8th grade students head to Alabama at no cost to their family. The students are selected by a committee of educators and local residents based on student-written essays and a personal interview, and last year saw the selection of eight students.

The trip was inspired by an experience several current NBAS teachers — Paul Lewis, Cindy Lewis, Anne Sherrieb and Cindy Mitchell — had in 2001. “There was a space camp offered at Ed-Tech (where) several county teachers helped out, and we were offered a scholarship to attend space camp in Alabama,” said Mitchell. “We came back from that camp and were overwhelmed, (and) we decided we wanted to send kids to camp, even though it was expensive.”

The group decided to hold just one fundraiser to generate the money to cover tuition and flights for as many students as possible. “However much money we made, that’s how many kids we would send,” said Mitchell. “We decided on the Old Fashioned Family Christmas, (which) is totally supported by donations from space camp alumni, businesses, North Branch Area Schools’ employees, and many other groups.” Three female students comprised the first cohort of students, in 2002, and since then, the district has been able to grow the program, sending eight students last year. “The first year we sent three campers. All girls,” said Mitchell. “Last year we paid full scholarship, including tuition, airfare and flightsuit for eight students and paid for flight for a return camper.”

Despite rising costs associated with air travel, Mitchell said the group is confident it will be able to send a several students again this year. “Tuition is $979 per student, and air fare has been climbing, but is around $650. Flight suits are $80,” she said. “Over 70 kids have gone.”

The Old Fashioned Family Christmas Auction and Fundraiser will begin at 6 p.m. with a craft room and games as well as food and activities, including an opportunity to take a photo with Santa. The event will also feature a shoppers’ room, a cookie walk and several auctions and raffles. The event is open to the public and donations are accepted.

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