Rock Solid: JEF offering bricks to honor former, current Indians at Tomato Bowl

by Cristin Parker

Jacksonville alumni, both present and past, have the opportunity to get their Fightin’ Indian spirit etched in stone.

The Jacksonville Education Foundation (JEF) is currently selling commemorative engraved bricks to honor alumni, teachers, friends and family. Bricks will be placed within the Tomato Bowl’s ‘Totem Pole Pass’ at the top of the steps leading into the Tomato Bowl’s historic entrance. Jacksonville board members approved allowing the JEF to sell the bricks during the July 30 school board meeting.

“This is a great opportunity to support JEF,” Superintendent Dr. Chad Kelly said during the July meeting. “Once the bricks are placed, they’re there forever.”

JISD staff will provide the labor to place the commemorative bricks.

Deadline for ordering bricks is Dec. 1. Bricks are 4 inches by 8 inches and cost $50 each. Proceeds benefit the students and teachers of Jacksonville Independent School District through the JEF. Brick order forms can be obtained at the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce office, Austin Bank-Jacksonville, the JISD Central Office or by visiting the Foundation’s website, Project officials said bricks will be in place for the grand opening of the Tomato Bowl in May.

The JEF is able to “accept donations the school district may not be allowed to accept,” according to the Foundation’s website. Donations are designated for student scholarships, classroom grants, certifications, or other specified purposes.

“The Jacksonville Education Foundation’s goal is to engage the community of Jacksonville and maximize the academic excellence of the Jacksonville public schools by supporting district-wide learning initiatives; encouraging teacher innovation and excellence; responding to emerging educational needs; and fostering collaborative projects with community partners,” JEF’s website explains.

JEF awards more than $16,000 in scholarships annually, thanks to donations from former JISD alumni and other residents, local philanthropic foundations and area businesses.

The Foundation also provided classroom grants this year, totaling $25,175, to help teachers provide various programs like the bilingual book club and the STEM club; outdoor classrooms; technology like wireless headsets for choir and cameras for journalism classes; field trips; standing desks and fidget bars; cookware and utensils for the culinary arts class; classroom libraries; and the Cherokee Charmers and JHS cheerleaders.

Sponsors of classroom grants include Nick and Kelly Peacock, the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Jacksonville Kiwanis Club, Dennis and Cynthia Durrett, Dairy Queen, Deliegh Kaley, Cherokee Real Estate, Barry and Jana Autry, All Smiles dental office, Family First Clinic & Urgent Care, Burger King, Home & Properties Realty, Austin Bank, Sadler’s Marine, Lee Lewis Construction and Claycomb & Associates Architects.

“Thank you for all you do to support our teachers and students,” alum and Jacksonville resident Jacki Bolton said via social media.

Anyone can become a member of the JEF for a little as $25 a year.

To become a sponsor of the JEF or to donate, visit the Foundation’s website, or mail donations to Jacksonville Education Foundation, PO Box 631, Jacksonville, TX 75766.