Main Street Academy teachers and staff honored
Teachers and school staff were the stars of the Friends of the Main Street Academy fundraiser, held at the Cypress Barn on Thursday evening.
The 14 teachers who serve the alternative high school walked the red carpet during the event and were given Oscar awards for their dedication to students during the event, which was themed “We all Dream in Gold.” Together, faculty members represented 75 years of experience in alternative education.
“I’m so grateful that the teachers and staff were honored specifically because what they do every day is amazing and they do it because they want to be there,” said Principal Michele Markovich. “They don’t even realize how special it is that they’re doing it because it is just natural to them, and I”m so glad that they got to see the response that it is special to them.”
Main Street Academy is an alternative school for the Siloam Springs and Gentry School Districts, according to Markovich. It serves about 90 students in grades nine through 12. The school provides intervention through small class size, specially trained teachers, emphasis on social competencies, services and experiential learning field trips, she said. School staff members also work to provide an environment that fosters peace, understanding success and hope.
Some Main Street Academy students transition back to traditional high school, while others complete their graduation requirements at the alternative school. Each year between 30 to 60 students complete their graduation requirements at Main Street Academy, Markovich said.
The fundraiser included a homemade dinner and dessert, prepared by Friends of the Main
Street Academy Board members. The evening also include entertainment by actor B.J. Johnston and music by his wife Karen Johnston, as well as a live and silent auction.
Main Street Academy students decorated pumpkins to be auctioned off and several students were able to attend the event.
Markovich said that while the food and entertainment was fantastic, the real reason people come to the Main Street Academy fundraiser is they want to help students change their lives.
“Deep down in our hearts we are all here because we want to be part of a lifechanging story,” she said. “Because we connect to that, because somewhere, somebody in our past, believed in us at a moment when we weren’t able to do everything for ourselves that we needed to do.”
Markovich pointed out that everyone has dreams but said that sometimes those dreams get buried because of circumstances that cannot be controlled.
“This is what we’re called to do as human beings, to come alongside somebody who needs help standing, to stand in the gap for someone who is struggling just a little bit,” Markovich said. “I’ve been there, I will continue to be there. If you talk to these amazing teachers and staff they will probably all tell you an example of a time they had to stand in the gap for me and that’s just humanity.”
Sometimes when students face difficulties or unfair situations, they begin to get the misperception that nobody cares or wants to help them. The fundraiser is a way to show students the community does care, she said.
Markovich said she has seen many life-changing stories at Main Street Academy over the years.
Sunny Nitro, a graduate of Main Street Academy, who shared her story with guests of last-year’s fundraiser returned this year to give an update on her success story. She recently graduated from the Northwest Arkansas Community College and is accepted into the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. She hopes to continue her education with graduate school focusing either on business or law.
Over the past five years, Friends of Main Street Academy has raised more than $50,000 for the school, although the results of the sixth annual event on Thursday were still being calculated at press time. The funds have been used to purchase Google Chromebooks for the classroom, provide scholarships for graduates to continue their education and to send students on field trips to places such as the Soderquist Center’s ropes course.
“When you create a lifechange for someone that impacts generations and we’re seeing students who were the first in their family to graduate, overcome great obstacles,” Markovich said. “Friends of Main Street offers scholarships to students whenever they’re ready to use them, so they may get those scholarships but they may not be ready for several years. When they do (they) know that money is there for them.”
Actor B.J. Johnson led Main Street Academy teachers Guy White, Lanna Hardy and vice principal Joshua Killian in a fun activity during the Main Street Academy fundraiser on Thursday evening.
Main Street Academy teachers walked the red carpet and were awarded with Oscar Awards during the sixth annual Friends of Main Street Academy fundraiser on Thursday.
Emcee Randy Torres presented teacher Julie Lewis with a replica of an Oscar Award during the sixth annual Friends of Main Street Academy fundraiser on Thursday night.