Months ago, on behalf of Hettinger Public School, administrative assistant Kira Henderson was awarded $2,500 from the BNSF Railroad Foundation. The money awarded from the railroad was used to buy new Google Chromebook laptops for local students.
After winning the original grant, Henderson continued applying for more grant opportunities from the BNSF Railroad Foundation. Thanks to her efforts, the school was recently awarded another grant for $10,000 to go towards new technology for the students.
“I wrote the first grant in February,” said Henderson, “We had another meeting and I thought, ‘you know what, I’m going to try for another one.’”
Henderson’s effort was a success, and already, the school has used the grant money to order 30 more Chromebooks for the elementary school lab.
“What this is allowing us to do is keep up our computer lab.” said superintendent Ryan Moser. “We were outdated, so this allows us to completely redo the elementary lab.”
Henderson said that, to her knowledge, the new computers should be ready to use for next year’s school season.
“The new computers will be used for the elementary lab, but I know that high school goes down to the elementary lab too, so it will be used by everybody,” she said.
Many people see the railroad as a double-edged sword. It’s not uncommon for a BNSF train to cause inconvenience by blocking both rail crossings on the south side of Hettinger, but their contributions to the local school have been considerable and they provide employment opportunities for the people of Hettinger.
“My dad works for the railroad,” said Henderson, “I know that the railroad is awesome at supporting things, and with the depot here and them supporting the school in the past, I decided to try for another grant.”
In the past two years, between grants for the school’s pool and the technology committee, the railroad foundation has granted over $20,000 to Hettinger’s school, according to Henderson.
Both principal Seamands and superintendent Moser were grateful for Henderson’s effort and success in gaining the grant funds.
“It’s just outstanding work. It’s people that have connections and then the willingness to put forth an effort to benefit the school with those connections,” said Seamands. “The fact that she is actually actively engaged in seeking for funds that can be used for the school is just another example of why she is an important part of Hettinger Public School.”
Moser added, “It’s just something above and beyond and you can tell her commitment to our students and staff by the extra things she has done for some school.“
Henderson said she will continue applying for the available grants as long as the funds are still available.
“The worst that they can do is say no, so I plan to reapply every year,” she said. “I want to look into more grants, because if we could get all three computer labs updated, that would be great.”