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State of Education Luncheon moving to May; fundraising mission remains in action

Organizers with the Port Arthur Education Foundation are postponing their annual State of Education Luncheon due to safety reasons as COVID-19 numbers rise.

Instead, the event that was slated for Feb. 17 will be moved to a date in May and combined with the Night of Stars banquet, which provides scholarships to the top 10 students from Memorial High School.

“This will give us five months to hopefully come up with a resolution for COVID; vaccination, decrease in cases, which are rising,” said Joe Tant, executive director of the Foundation. “I just want to be as safe as I can just to make sure all my kids are good.”

Tant said his only holdup to picking a date in May is to make sure he has the blessing of the school district on who is in the Top 10 for the “Night of Stars” part of the event.

Barbara Phillips, president of the Foundation, said students’ work is highlighted during the State of Education event.

“It’s quite impressive to see what the students are learning,” Phillips said.

Port Arthur Independent School Superintendent Mark Porterie and Lamar State College Port Arthur President Betty Reynard are scheduled to speak to sponsors and guests and provide an update to what’s going on in education.

Phillips said during the Night of Stars event the top students bring their parents and can select their favorite teacher to be a guest at their table and speak of how they are inspired by the educator.

“The Foundation is very successful in the past years due to the sponsorship of people in the community, and we are so grateful for that,” Phillips said. “It’s certainly made a difference in education in Port Arthur.”

The Foundation

The Foundation also provides grants for teachers in PAISD. This week the Foundation is awarding $12,160.16 in grants to teachers.

“The goal every year is to have my Foundation broke, we want to give it all away,” Tant said. “That’s the most important aspect of this. Although a lot of our learning is virtual, there is still a need to have things to help our teachers and our educators help our kids. This is our future workforce and if we can provide the tools teachers need, I’m excited about that.”

Tant said it would not be feasible to hold the event knowing they may have 600 people in attendance — “you can’t social distance that many people.”

The State of Education luncheon has event sponsors who buy a table of tickets and host Career and Technology Program students at the table, which is a great way for a student to talk with leaders in their fields of interest.

Golden Triangle Emergency Center sponsors a table every year and Tant places Lamar State College Port Arthur nursing students at those tables, and they access to health professionals in the region.

Tant said the business leaders can talk to the students about their career paths, which creates transparency on where their money is going.

He listed off a few more businesses: Nathan Rivers with SETEX Construction Group asks for building and trades students to be at his table while others want engineering students to sit with them.

Sports Clips came out one year and a cosmetology student was placed at the table and some were hired right out of high school, Tant said.

For more information on the State of Education Luncheon, call 409-963-1107.