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Community gala for alumni planned

With the Tonawanda City School District rapidly approaching the 100th anniversary of the annual TNT Week, district officials are in the process of reactivating a fundraising foundation and are planning a community gala for alumni in the fall.

TNT Week is the spirit and homecoming week between Tonawanda and its Erie Canal sister city, North Tonawanda. School Board President Joyce Hogenkamp wants to capitalize on the festivities by starting an annual gala to benefit the district, giving adult alumni a chance to celebrate Tonawanda's history while students go to the homecoming dance.

Officials are still working out the details of date and place, but tickets will be $100, and it will take place within the City of Tonawanda. Since this is a first-time effort, district officials want the gala to break even, while hoping for a small profit of $3,000 to $4,000 to help fund nonmandated school programs like art, music and athletics.

"Once [we started] talking about it in the community, people got excited," Hogenkamp said. "This is something for the adults and alumni to celebrate. It's good for the foundation, too."

Dormant for years, the Tonawanda City School District Foundation will sponsor the gala as its first official event. Foundation Director Thomas Murphy is expecting to finalize the reactivation of the nonprofit entity this spring, but he has already received financial commitments from Tonawanda alumni ready to help.

"It's a grass-roots effort," Murphy said. "People will want to get involved in different ways."

Hogenkamp has already heard from alumni who graduated in the '40s and '50s -- people whom she dubbed the "Golden Warriors."

"They feel the foundation is a good way to preserve the traditions of Tonawanda," she said.

Murphy, also the district's grants writer, hopes the district approves his request for $8,000 for software to track fundraising totals and donors. He is still shopping for software quotes.

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