AYER -- In 2004, the Ayer Education Foundation was founded, a "volunteer-based, nonprofit organization committed to augmenting the educational excellence in the Ayer Massachusetts School District by providing additional funds and resources via private and corporate donations." The name of the organization has changed due to the recent regionalization of Ayer and Shirley, but the mission for AEF is still alive and well in the Ayer-Shirley Education Foundation.
The ASEF funds two grant cycles a year. For grades K through 12, there is one $25,000 cycle in the late fall, and for the preschools in Ayer and Shirley, there is a $1,000 grant pool in the winter.
There are four main funding sources for the ASEF: the GROWS program that enables individuals to give a donation in the name of a teacher or staff member, the Holdenwood Trail Run, a breathtaking Shirley run through the Holdenwood trails, the Janis Bresnahan 5K Run for Education, an annual run whose proceeds are generously donated to the foundation, and the Annual Lip Sync Show that gives children and families an opportunity to experience a live performance.
One of those fundraisers, the Lip Sync Show, raised over $4,000 to benefit educational enrichment programs in the Ayer-Shirley Public Schools. The event occurred on Saturday, Dec. 1, with Ryleigh and Kyle Levensailor, two students from Ayer-Shirley Regional High School, emceeing the night. The evening was sponsored by HILLCO Heating & Cooling Inc. for the fourth year in a row.
"The ASEF is so grateful for HILLCO's sponsorship of our annual lip sync show," said ASEF co-president Maureen Kilcommins. "Support from our business community sends a great message about the value of our mission within Ayer and Shirley. It's also fun to hear the kids shout out HILLCO's tag line from memory each year."
More than 100 students and teachers participated in 26 acts on the night in question. Children from kindergarten through high school lip synced to songs by Taylor Swift, the Beastie Boys, Brenda Lee and Weird Al Yankovic.
"There really was something for everyone tonight," ASEF board member Sheila Kelly said. "All kinds of music was played -- from country music to rap -- and each year, the level of preparation from the students is amazing. This year, with about 110 performers, there were many group acts. This meant that more students could be part of this great event."
There were many volunteers involved in this event to make it run smoothly, and the ASEF is thankful to all of them and to the show's producer, Sue DeBassio.
"Sue did a fabulous job this year and has worked tirelessly over the last 9 years to produce the Lip Sync. The first show benefitted Habitat for Humanity, and for the last eight years, the show has been an ASEF event. We are so grateful for all of the behind-the-scenes work that went into producing the show. This was Sue's last year as producer and we are very grateful for her dedication throughout the years," said Kelly.
ASEF also wants to recognize the show's two new emcees, Ryleigh and Kyle Levensailor, the 26 acts, the fabulous backstage crew and the amazing, enthusiastic audience. Thanks additionally go to the ASEF board members, Hillco Heating and Cooling, Doug Becker, Zach Washington, Don Swope, APAC, the ASRHS Broadcasting & Communication Club, and David Bremer.