Al Schafer: Masons observe Public Schools Month |

Al Schafer: Masons observe Public Schools Month

Over a century ago, members of California Masonic Lodges instituted Public Schools Week to promote and sustain the idea of education for all.

Created in 1920 by 53rd Masonic Grand Master Charles Adams, Public Schools Week recognized students, teachers, administrators and school volunteers. This tradition was expanded by other community organizations. April is now designated as Public Schools Month.

This month, local Masons of District 234 are celebrating this guiding principle by acknowledging the scholars and teachers of our high schools for Nevada City, Grass Valley, Colfax and Sierra City.

Nevada Lodge #13 F&AM, established in 1850 in Nevada City, will be awarding four scholarships to the 2021 graduates from western Nevada County high schools. Two graduates will receive renewable academic scholarships to colleges and universities, plus two graduates will receive vocational scholarships to continue their technical/mechanical education. Masons will also recognize a Teacher of the Year from Nevada Union and Bear River high schools, as selected by a vote of their students.

At the statewide level, in 2018 Nevada Lodge #13 voted to donate $75,000 in support of California’s Raising a Reader program from the California Masonic Foundation’s Let’s Write the Future campaign.

Madison Lodge #23 F&AM in Grass Valley, established in 1852, has supported intermediate schools during the academic year by providing books to school libraries, funding the Lyman Gilmore band and contributions to programs at Nevada Union and Bear River high schools.

Lodge #51 in Colfax recently merged with Madison Lodge. Traditionally, a donation was made to the Colfax High School Library. When the Colfax lodge building is sold, part of the proceeds will create an endowment for future funding for the students at Colfax High School.

Harmony Lodge #164 in Sierra City has hosted an annual ice cream social for the parents and students at Downieville Junior/Senior High School for nearly 90 years. Also, the Masons contribute to that school library.

Local Masonic Lodges also support the annual Health/Safety and Fire Preparedness Carnival. This year’s event, scheduled for May 1 at the Rood Center, has been postponed due to concerns for assembling over 1,000 guests at the outdoor educational gathering.

A patriotic celebration commemorating the signing of the U.S. Constitution was founded by Nevada Lodge in September of 1967. The 54th annual Constitution Day Parade is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 19.

Masons in Colonial costumes will open the Parade with the re-enactment of the signing of the Constitution. During the Parade, Masons and members of our school-aged youth groups, DeMolay for boys and Job’s Daughters for girls, will be distributing study guides of the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence to viewers along the parade route.

Mason Shriners from Northern California will participate to add to the community’s festivities.

Al Schafer lives in Grass Valley.

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