One of the big events of every winter is the Casino Night hosted by the Gonzales ISD Foundation at the J.B. Wells Expo Center.
The annual extravaganza, which is scheduled for Saturday night, Jan. 26, promises to be the biggest night ever in the three-year history of the event.
“We’ve raised over $160,000 since we started the foundation in 2011,” said Amber Withers, President of the Gonzales ISD Education Foundation. “We started the Casino Night three years ago and it has grown every year since its inception.
“The first year we had about 270 people attend, and last year we were close to 300. This year we will be well over 300,” Withers said. “We’ve had a lot of growth and we’ve had to add additional gaming tables to handle the increase.”
The idea for a Casino Night was first proposed four years ago but the foundation board did not have enough time to put the inaugural event together. The first one was held in 2017.
“We wanted to get the entire community involved and the Casino Night concept is perfect for that,” Withers said. “It is really awesome to see the fellowship when the entire community becomes involved and has a lot of fun raising money for a really good cause. And all of the money raised stays local.”
The money raised from the Casino Night is put back into the schools in the form of grants to teachers for various projects they are working on. The teachers apply for the grants in October, and then an anonymous committee reviews the grant applications and makes recommendations back to the board. In December, the grants are awarded amid great fan fare to the teachers, with the high school marching band and cheerleaders helping to hype the grants.
This year, the Gonzales Primary Academy won seven grants, and a special assembly was held to surprise the winning teachers.
“It is so cool to see the response of teachers and the students when the grants are presented,” Withers said. “It makes all the hard work worthwhile when you see their reaction.”
The Gonzales ISD Foundation Board of Directors is led by Withers as President. Other board members are: Bridgett Burnett (VP of Finance); Katherine Harkey (VP of Programs); Sara Schmidt (VP of Development); Kristin Tatsch (VP of Marketing); Marti Macias (Secretary); Stephanie Sill; Felipe Leon; Christine Presley; Sheri Staggs, Dewey Smith; and Robin White. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kim Strozier is a non-voting board member, and two school board members — Sue Gottwald and Josie Smith — are trustees.
Tickets for this year’s Casino Night can be purchased from any board member, or interested parties can go to education.foundation@gonzalesISD.net. No tickets will be sold at the door.