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'Above and beyond' -- Area teachers surprised with grant money during class

Jo Anne Coates (left) and Deb Unruh (center) were surprised with over $1,000 in grant money to help fund the Daily Grind, Dickinson High School's coffee shop which is staffed by students. (Iain Woessner / The Dickinson Press)1 / 3
(Left to right) Karen Heidt, Greg Jung, Superintendent Shon Hocker and Dickinson Public Schools Foundation President Jim Peters. The Foundation surprised Mr. Jung with over $9,000 for a Dickinson News Network to present school projects. (Iain Woessner / The Dickinson Press)2 / 3
Karen Heidt of the Dickinson Public Schools Foundation surprised Greg Jung, Dickinson High science teacher, with almost $10,000 in grant money on Wednesday. (Iain Woessner / The Dickinson Press)3 / 3

The Dickinson Public Schools Foundation awarded almost $25,000 worth of grant monies to schools around the Dickinson Public School District, funding a range of programs from elementary up through high school.

These projects include Berg Elementary's "Dash into Coding" which got $7,181 and will allow elementary school children an opportunity to learn the basics of coding, as well as Dickinson High School's proposed "Dickinson News Network", which received $9,299 and will be a vehicle through which class projects could be presented to partners around the community via live streaming.

"It's a great opportunity for this project-based biology class to be able to be the first ones to use it, but also for our whole entire school," Greg Jung, science teacher at Dickinson High School, said. "I wrote the grant not just for this class but for an opportunity for every club or class or activity to be able to use this eventually over time."

It was Jung's idea to model the structure of the presentations after news broadcasts.

"It was my idea just to start, I call it DNN the Dickinson News Network, which is just a catchy thing, but one of the projects that I wanted to do for the project-based class was ... we were going to present one unit via a livestream medium," Jung said. "I thought a great way to do it was to simulate like we were a news network ... and then we can broadcast this live to other community partners."

He's going to enlist the help of skilled students to help bring the project to life.

"I'm a little nervous, but we have a great group of kids and I have some other kids who I've had in the past that are really techy that I think will be able to help us out," Jung said.

Karen Heidt is director of development for the Dickinson Public Schools Foundation. She spoke to the purpose of the Foundation, which has raised over $400,000 in grant money for DPS since its formation in 1989.

"We raise money to enrich education in the Dickinson Public Schools," Heidt said. "Our primary purpose is we don't pay for things the school district could afford, we go above and beyond the school district's budget."

They have two programs, Heidt said: a mini-grant program that issued more than $800 this past December, and their main program, which was what Wednesday's checks were for. District teachers make their presentations to the Foundation around January, Heidt said, and the Foundation weighs their requests and narrows them down. Wednesday saw six projects total awarded grants.

The Foundation also sponsors the Mystery Dinner Theater, which will be held at the Ramada Grand Dakota Lodge on Feb. 7-9 starting at 6 p.m. The Foundation sponsors scholarships and can help support students who are invited to national-level competitions. For more information on the Foundation, seek them out on Facebook or online at " target="_blank">www.dickinson.k12.nd.us/foundation/.