DELMAR — The Bethlehem Central School District raised $3,980 last week for its Chris Porter scholarship, helping to reach its goal since 2018 of raising $30,000 needed to make it a permanent annual scholarship for years to come.
The scholarship and its fundraising originally started in early 2018, taking its name from Chris Porter, a fifth-grade teacher at the Glenmont and Eagle elementary schools, who died on Nov. 12, 2017 after 20 years of teaching and a four-month battle with an aggressive brain tumor. Last week’s fundraiser was held at the Glenmont Elementary School, attended by Porter’s family, supportive students and faculty, and it included entertaining games, a silent auction and a raffle.
The scholarship is administered by the Bethlehem Central Community Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers classroom innovation grants to Bethlehem teachers and administers memorial scholarships to deserving high school seniors.
This annual scholarship grants $1,000 to “a graduating senior who demonstrated drive, persistence, courage and resilience,” according to the district’s website. The BCCF is in charge of distributing scholarship applications every April and determining which senior gets it in May.
“We want to honor her legacy and we don’t want anyone to forget her. She’d be a hard person to forget,” said Elizabeth Flanagan, one of the scholarship fundraiser’s organizers this year and a Glenmont Elementary teacher. “There’s a lot of support in the community and she was so special that it’s hard to put into words. It’s bittersweet and it’s also thinking about her memories.”
Prior to last week’s fundraiser, the school district had already raised around $26,000 since early 2018.
Upon reaching the overall $30,000 goal last week, Flanagan said, “We’re so happy! Everyone, the Glenmont and Eagle faculty are thrilled. We committed to it and we reached our goal successfully. It was also great that Chris Porter’s family and friends were at the fundraiser last [week].”
Laurel Jones, who works with the BCCF, said the scholarship is important.
She explained, “we feel that Chris touched so many lives and she can continue to touch so many lives forever.”
She added that she used to work with her when she was still alive.
“She was always the favorite teacher for many students for 20 years and she was always positive and had a smile on her face,” she said. “We want her legacy to live on and that’s why we put our scholarship together.”
Teacher Kristi Malsan said she worked with Porter for 11 years.
“Our sons were friends in middle school so I’ve known her a really long time,” she said. “Her desire was to help every kid reach their best and she was determined and had a lot of energy. Any kid who walked into her door, she wanted them to reach their goals and her motto was always to dream big.”
Malsan concluded, “She was such an amazing person and to this day, we still miss her.”