Mt. Vernon Register-News


November 1, 2012

High school foundation to host event

MT. VERNON — The Mt. Vernon Township High School Foundation will hold its fourth annual dinner Saturday to launch its fundraising season and to recognize teachers and alumni, foundation President Tom Jackson said.

The dinner is the first of three major fundraisers the foundation holds during the school year, which combined along with other revenue streams raises between $40,000 and $50,000 a year. Other funding sources includes grants and donations.

This year, Jackson said, the foundation will use about half of those proceeds for this year’s special project — buying 30 computer tablets for the high school and upgrading its Wi-Fi as the school strives to encourage  more students to bring their mobile devices to class.

“This allows kids that don’t have access to that technology to benefit,” Jackson said.

Since its start in 2005, the foundation has contributed $198,572 to the school, including just more than $13,000 in grants to teachers this school year who will be recognized during the dinner.

They include: Ann Garrett, $500, for Kindles in the library; Debbie Backes, $590, for reading software in special education; Frank Hartman, $890, for pocket camcorders in social studies; Jeremy Mays, $2,027, for digital cameras/video devices for communications and arts; Tracie Shackles, $2,495 for iPads in science, Travis McCollum, $3,099, for laptops in science, and Keith Jones, $3,776, for LabQuest Minis, photogates and microphones in science.

The foundation will also be recognizing this year’s distinguished alumni of the high school and presenting the honorees with plaques. They were selected through community nominations and then by the Distinguished Alumni Selection Committee at the high school.

This year’s distinguished alumni are:

n Bennie Purcell; of the class of 1947, who holds numerous Murray State  and Ohio Valley Conference basketball records and achievements including having his jersey retired and being named to the OVC All-Time Team. As  the  tennis coach at Murray State, he won 11 OVC championships and tennis courts are now named in his honor. In addition to being inducted into five athletic halls of fame and having toured with the Harlem Globetrotters, Purcell played for MVTHS coach Stan Changnon from 1944-47 and returned to the high school during the 1962-63 school year as a teacher and head basketball coach.

n Mark Hassakis, class of 1969, a personal injury attorney in Southern Illinois who since 1976 has practiced at the Mt. Vernon firm of Hassakis and Hassakis, founded by his father Demitri Hassakis, another MVTHS distinguished alumnus. Mark Hassakis is former president of the Illinois State  Bar Association and the Illinois Bar Foundation. He is a former MVTHS board of education member and currently serves on the Mt. Vernon Downtown Development Corporation and the Mt. Vernon West Rotary Club.

n William Fahrenholtz, class of 1983, is a professor of ceramic engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology teaching courses on thermodynamics and conducting research on advanced structural ceramics. He has been elected as a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society and is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award among other teaching recognitions.

The  foundation dinner will be held at the Holiday Inn in Mt. Vernon and is open to the public, Jackson said. A reception will begin at 5 p.m. followed by the dinner at 6 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person and may be purchased at Byrd-Watson Drugs or Jackson Jewelry.

In other foundation news: The foundation launched its new website Wednesday, Jackson said. The website address is

Jackson said the website will help raise the foundation’s profile in the public and to keep people informed about its activities. Previously, the foundation’s online presence was confined to the  high school website, but an independent site will give the foundation greater flexibility in managing information and raising funds.

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