FOCRLS treasurer and volunteer Jamie Sabino sells MayFair raffle tickets to help fund scholarships, faculty grants and other group programs. (Photo: FOCRLS)

FOCRLS treasurer and volunteer Jamie Sabino sells MayFair raffle tickets to help fund scholarships, faculty grants and other group programs. (Photo: FOCRLS)

From the Friends of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, Oct. 14: The Friends of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School celebrated its eighth anniversary at a School Year Kickoff on Sept. 23 with a cake and the welcoming of parents, city leaders, volunteers and donors. FOCRLS, founded in September 2006, is a nonprofit, tax-exempt association of parents, alumni and community volunteers bringing opportunities to faculty, students and graduates of Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, the city’s 1,854-student public high school.

The Friends had another reason to celebrate: recently passing $400,000 in total donations.

At the gathering, volunteers spoke to parents new to the school about the benefits of involvement and the extent of the nonprofit’s impact, with thousands of students reached through Friends programs.

Craig Kelley, who is active with the group in addition to being a Cambridge city councillor, described it as “one of the jewels in the CRLS crown” and said its opportunities “take a good educational experience and, for many CRLS students, make it great.”

Larry Aaronson, a former CRLS history teacher, spoke about the Friends as the sole organization that has succeeded in harnessing the support of the CRLS and Cambridge communities over the course of the school’s long history.

Elisa Pepe, webmaster for FOCRLS.org, said the group “fills important gaps in student and teacher support that the district does not have time or money to. FOCRLS listened to my time and interest parameters and found a volunteer activity that fits perfectly. I have been especially impressed at how organized and dynamic FOCRLS is.”

The group is growing continually in scope, having already awarded $39,000 in college scholarships and launching an alumni and community mentor program in July – the “It Takes a Village” College Success Program. Along with its future-focused programs, the group provides Faculty Innovation Grants to help teachers enliven curriculum with creative experiences for students and Student Travel Fellowships so academically and financially qualified students can participate in school trips such as upcoming journeys to England for math and science and the Galapagos Islands for marine biology. Faculty Distinction Awards honoring staff members chosen by seniors and Unsung Heroes Awards recognizing students chosen by staff round out the offerings.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer or mentor, starting a scholarship or making a contribution is urged to visit FOCRLS.org, send email here or call (857) 235-9290.