The Student Investment Foundation hosted its fourth annual dinner and fundraiser at Stone Bridge Farms Friday night in an effort to bring additional financial support to local schools.

Area dignitaries, local officials, and educators were present for the silent auction, live auction and dinner hosted by the foundation that brought in around $33,000 for county schools last year. West Point special education teacher Lesley Hembree said the event is for the schools, but it’s centered around unity within the community.

“It is a community gathering that brings everyone together to show the schools across the county support,” Hembree said. “When you think of a school you think of the things that make it up: Students, faculty members, teachers, or athletics, band, other activities, and with this event, you’re getting support for a school in its entirety, not just one section.”

Lesley said the support from the towns within the community allows the foundation to award grants each year to Cullman County schools in order to make academic improvements.

“When you look around you see business owners within the community, retired teachers, current teachers, community officials, basically all those people who make up a town or city,” Hembree said. “These students are your future employees for the business owners. They could be future teachers or local leaders. The financial support for the schools from this county is investing itself and preparing for the future. As a teacher, you want your students to do well and succeed, but they need instruments to do these thing. They need to be educated properly. Tools in the schools can help them learn how to do the jobs they want to have in the future, and do them well.”

West Point math teacher and technology coordinator Leah Drauch said the grants she has seen area schools receive because of this organization have been vital to the growth of local education.

“With the lack of state funding, we rely on these grants to support our technology needs,” Drauch said. “This is one of the biggest monetary producers for our school systems and we are so thankful for that.”

West Point graduate and current technology leader Brian Nesmith was the guest speaker for the event. The money raised at the event will be announced later.

Lauren Estes can be reached at or 256-734-2131, ext. 137.

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