BONSALL – On the first Thursday of every month, a group of tireless community volunteers gather at the Bonsall Community Center. They follow Robert's Rules of Order, they have elected officers, and meeting agendas. To an observer, it is very official, organized, and serious. The group, the Bonsall Education Foundation, is made up of parents of Bonsall Unified School District students and community members.
Though the leadership and active members have changed over the years, a singular dedication has remained. BEF has been committed to supporting the needs of students and educators in extracurricular activities and supplemental programs since 2008.
"The Bonsall Education Foundation is an amazing organization; it's the secret sauce that makes our school district such a special place," commented Superintendent Joseph Clevenger. "I don't know of another grassroots, parent-led, organization that supports an entire school district. We very much appreciate all that they do."
Founded by a group of BUSD parents and current Bonsall High School teacher Danny Costa, BEF set out to fulfill a need during lean times. "School districts all over were cutting out arts and other extracurricular opportunities, and we just knew that our students deserve more," said Costa.
The foundation raises money through various sponsored events like the Bonsall High School Car Show, the BUSD golf tournament, and the Bonsall Rotary's Wine, Blues and Brews, to support athletics and theater, as well as teacher requests that help purchase supplies and other educational materials.
The organization also started garden programs, such as the Bonsall Sprouts Garden at Bonsall Elementary School and now maintains the circle garden at the school's entrance. BEF also oversees the "S.O.S." drive at each school.
The S.O.S. (Support Our Students) campaign's goal is to receive $25 per student each school year. Community members and parents can make tax deductible donations through BEF that go directly to the classrooms to purchase much needed school supplies, equipment, special classroom projects, or activities.
BEF's website provides links to the SOS drive as well as links to sponsor sports, theater, and other fundraising campaigns.
"The Bonsall High School Theatre Company would not exist without BEF. Their partnership allows our little school to produce quality shows like last year's 'Clue' and this year's 'It's A Wonderful Life'," added Bonsall High School Theater Director Jen Arellano.
BEF is also leading the charge when it comes to supporting the growing athletic programs at Sullivan Middle School and Bonsall High School. "Where larger schools have organized booster organizations, Bonsall Unified has BEF," said Athletic Director Andrea Breuninger.
Another significant, long-term project of BEF is the restoration of the original Bonsall Schoolhouse which dates back to August 1895. BEF acts as steward of the Bonsall Schoolhouse and is also charged with its complete restoration.
With the unwavering financial support of the Bonsall Woman's Club and donations of important vintage pieces from Questers International, Fallbrook Chapter, the restoration of the building will be complete by 2025.
"This multi-year restoration project has been possible because we have partnered with some exceptional local organizations," says Jen Leung, director of the Schoolhouse Restoration Project. "We want the schoolhouse to be used by the community once again, as a meeting place, a special events venue and most importantly as a museum/outdoor classroom where students can learn about California history."
Over the past 15 years, BEF has raised over $500,000 for programs that benefit students and educators. They also provide scholarships for graduating high school seniors.
One special scholarship is the Dale Costa Memorial Scholarship. Mr. Costa was a longtime resident of Bonsall and a noted supporter of Bonsall schools. His wife, son, daughter, and daughter in-law all taught or continue to teach within BUSD, and after he retired from Sony in 2001, it was not uncommon to see Mr. Costa as a volunteer aide in his wife's first grade classroom at Bonsall Elementary School.
When he died in December 2016, his family created an annual scholarship in his name to support a graduating BHS senior who was planning to attend Palomar College before transferring to a four-year university. To date, the scholarship has benefited six well-deserving Bonsall graduates.
Current BEF President Shauna Jopes is hoping that other parents will join their effort, so that the next generation of Bonsall parents will keep the foundation going. If anyone is interested in volunteering or learning more about BEF, parents/guardians in the district can contact [email protected].
Submitted by Bonsall Unified School District.