Foundation targets curricular activities at Columbine

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By AJ Vicens

A group of Columbine High parents, teachers and principal Frank DeAngelis have formed a foundation that will raise funds just for academics.

The Frank DeAngelis Columbine High School Academic Foundation launched Oct. 6 just ahead of parent-teacher conferences at the school.

"It's a fantastic opportunity for Columbine High School because we have so many booster clubs for sports and other activities," DeAngelis said, referring to the more than 20 booster clubs for athletics, music and cheer groups. "This is the first time a group of parents have come forward that want to raise money strictly for academics."

The three teachers involved — Jason Webb, Brian Todd and Tom Tonelli — teamed with DeAngelis and Mary and Todd Tedford to form the foundation because they want academics to be supported equally as well as extracurricular activities.

"We want to continue keeping Columbine High School up to date and make sure the students have the best academic tools available," Mary Tedford said.

The Tedfords' children attended Columbine, and the couple have always tried to help whenever they could, but a new urgency came when ballot measures 3A and 3B — which would have raised taxes for Jeffco schools — failed last November.

"When 3A and 3B went down, people started to think, 'What can we do?’ " Mary Tedford said.

They decided to team with the teachers and DeAngelis to form the foundation about three months ago and have been working since to get it off the ground. It's modeled after a similar foundation set up for Lakewood High School.

Everyone involved with the foundation is a volunteer, so 100 percent of donations go to academics, Tedford said. She added that the foundation will try, at least initially, to raise money without planning large, costly events.

The foundation organizers hope community residents — along with businesses and civic groups — see the value of an academic-focused foundation. Tedford said it's clear money is tight right now, but the cause of helping academics at Columbine might inspire people to donate.

DeAngelis agrees.

"I realize it's tough out there right now," he said. "The tough economy has made things tough on school budgets, and this is definitely going to benefit students and teachers."

The foundation has a goal of $25,000 to be raised by Dec. 31. The first round of money will purchase several dozen Airliner Wireless Slates for teachers, which allow them to project notes to a white board while walking around the classroom.

The group decided to name the foundation after DeAngelis because they hope it becomes synonymous with the school, just as they see DeAngelis.

"He truly is Columbine. He's truly the heart and soul of that school," Tedford said, adding that DeAngelis has committed to be part of the foundation long after he retires, which could happen at the end of the 2012 school year.

"I definitely want to stay with it as long as I can," DeAngelis said. "This is my 31st year at Columbine, 14th as principal. It'll give me the opportunity to stay involved and to try and help raise funds for Columbine."

The Frank DeAngelis Columbine High School Academic Foundation is a nonprofit group created to raise money to support the high school's academics. Donations can be dropped off at the school's front office or sent to: The Frank DeAngelis Columbine High School Academic Foundation, P.O. Box 620816, Littleton, CO 80162.