Together we make a profound difference

April is Public Schools Month

BEST PRACTICE: Supporting public schools

HOW-TO: Partner with public schools

Stick to the plan

Your success stories

Question of the month


April is Public Schools Month

As a fraternity, we’ve declared support of public education a strategic priority for 2010-2015. As we work on this goal, we ultimately address almost every strategic priority - from “membership experience” to “beyond the lodge.”

Consider this: When you launch a program in support of schools, you create new ways for members to get involved. New leadership opportunities. A stronger lodge identity. A connection to your community.

You become part of a legacy that’s as old as Freemasonry - just take a look at this timeline. Most importantly, you support the students in your community.

The theme for Public Schools Month is: Together we make a profound difference for public education.

How will you make a difference?


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BEST PRACTICE: Supporting public schools

As part of the fraternity's strategic priority to support public schools, the California Masonic Foundation recently created a new scholarship.

Most scholarships target only students in the top percentage of the class. But the Investment in Success scholarship takes a broader view. It is awarded to promising students who have overcome adversity, and proven their potential to succeed in college.

It's a familiar philosophy for Huntington Beach Lodge No. 380. The lodge has long rewarded hard-working students who might otherwise go unnoticed and unrecognized.

Assistant Secretary Craig Reade explains:

We have a large lodge with a core of active members. Brother Chuck Hughes, a retired teacher, was instrumental in starting our public schools program many years ago.

Every April we host a dinner and awards ceremony for students, families, school faculty, and the lodge. We're expecting 190 attendees this year.

The stars of the night are local seventh-graders, who are recognized for significant improvements in their grades or conduct.

The concept

  • The honorees: The award goes to the most improved boy and girl in each school's 7th grade. We typically honor 16 students: two students apiece from eight junior high schools.
  • The schools: The eight schools comprise three school districts. (We invite all four area school districts to participate.)
  • The judges: The schools identify the students to be recognized. The principals' administrative assistants are our greatest advocates. They work with the teachers and principals to make the selection and send us student names.

The event

    • The meal: We host a free dinner at the lodge, prepared by members.
    • Roll call: Student honorees come with their families. Teachers, principals, and at least one school superintendent also attend.
    • Lodge turnout: About 50 lodge members and their families usually attend, and we always include the two area youth orders. We encourage a strong lodge showing at the program, because the public outnumbers us!
    • The awards ceremony: We present a small check to each student, and his or her teacher gives a short speech. It's a big deal for these students. There have been some real tear-jerkers.

The leaders

  • Chairman: One officer - traditionally, the senior deacon - leads the event planning. The responsibility changes hands every year. We consider it part of learning how to manage a lodge program.
  • Group wisdom: Because of the rotating responsibilities, a number of members have experience running the program. The best way to learn is to ask. There's no formal to-do list.
  • School liaison: Brother Hughes is our long-standing liaison, and all the administrative assistants know him. TIP: The program is always well-received by the schools, largely because of this personal contact.

Event-planning calendar

  • February: Planning begins. It's important to start early so you can choose a date that works with school calendars. Brother Hughes visits the schools to obtain the schedule and ask for student nominations.
  • March: By the beginning of March, we've obtained student names, and the bulk of the work begins. We write invitation letters to the parents, and per school policy, submit them to the schools to distribute. We send a copy of each letter to the superintendent's office. This is also when we send general invitations: to the schools, superintendents, and fraternity.
  • April: Our event is always held during Public Schools Month. Two or three member volunteers set up the hall the day before. One member leads the cooking, with a few helpers.

We've established ourselves as a public schools partner, and every year, we pack the hall with members of the community.

Most importantly, the award shows the students that their hard work isn't going unnoticed. That recognition means a lot. We want these seventh graders to know that we believe in them. We hope it encourages them to continue their hard work in high school and beyond.

For more information, contact: Craig Reade,


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HOW-TO: Partner with public schools

How can you make a profound difference for public schools, in April and every month of the year? Here are ideas straight from the fraternity.

Before settling on any one, arrange a meeting with the principal. He or she can tell you what the school needs most. A face-to-face conversation is also the best way to forge a lasting partnership.


  • Tutor students or read to young children after school
  • Help in a school computer lab or library
  • Offer to paint a playground, plant a garden, or help with time-consuming tasks such as stuffing envelopes
  • Participate in Principal for a Day program
  • Provide lodge space for special student-parent meetings, such as ESL classes
  • Talk with school administrators about other creative ways to volunteer

Support school programs

  • Donate money for a teacher's "wish list" for classroom supplies
  • At the beginning of the school year, give students backpacks filled with supplies
  • Distribute dictionaries
  • Supply U.S. Constitution booklets for classrooms (middle school and above)
  • Donate money to buy instruments and supplies for the school’s music program
  • Fund an after-school program
  • Donate money for a school field trip to the state capitol
  • Purchase advertising space in school yearbooks
  • Ask the school librarian to provide a list of desired books, and donate or raise money to purchase them

Sponsor contests

  • Essay competition
  • Poster contest
  • Speech contest
  • Writing contest
  • Science fair
  • U.S. Constitution tournament
  • Spelling bee

Award excellence

  • Reward "most improved" students at a lodge dinner for families
  • Establish a bike reward program
  • Present U.S. Savings Bonds to student leaders
  • Work with principal or school district leaders honor a Teacher of the Year
  • Fund college scholarships
Have we forgotten something? Please e-mail additional suggestions to with How-To: Partner with local schools in the subject line.


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Stick to the plan


California Masonry's strategic plan for 2010-2015 is in place, outlining ambitious strategic priorities for our fraternity.

It's important to post the priorities somewhere visible. This serves as a daily reminder of the specific, measurable steps you can take to achieve the larger goal... working together we will increase the relevance of our fraternity and enhance the member experience.

The following resources were created by Grand Lodge to do just that. Use them to educate members about the plan and mobilize your lodge around shared goals.

Strategic plan poster: Mailed to every lodge this month

  • Hang in a prominent place in the lodge
  • Use to guide discussions about the strategic plan and how it relates to your lodge

Electronic strategic plan poster:

  • Include in your Trestleboard and post on the lodge website
  • If you e-mail your membership, include a link in your signature

Do you have a lodge strategic plan?
By now, you should be in the process of creating one, and ready to set target dates for new programs or lodge goals. The above resources will help members understand how any changes around lodge fit in with the fraternity's greater goals.

If you haven't started a lodge strategic plan, or want a refresher on the planning process, read this How-To article.


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Your success stories

As part of By Your Side, California lodges were asked to plan special programming at the February stated meeting in honor of National Cancer Prevention Month.

A number of you shared success stories. Here's a snapshot:

Lodi No. 256
We welcomed the former chief of staff for Kaiser Stockton. He is a brother who was about to demit, but came back to lodge during Coming Home! He spoke to our lodge, families, and bethel.

Olive Branch No. 269
We had two outside speakers: One represented a cancer support group in our community. The other was a dietician who spoke on healthy eating to avoid and prevent cancers. Enjoyed by all.

Pacific Rim No. 567
A very successful event; the best-attended stated meeting that I can remember. We called the lodge from labor to refreshment and invited families to listen to the master's presentation. Almost 100 attended.

Harding San Juan No. 579
We invited the director of the Marshall Cancer Treatment Center to present. She also brought an oncology certified nurse from the center, who explained the oncology certification and how much she loves working with cancer patients. It was spectacular.


Want to share your lodge's success story? Please e-mail with By Your Side event in the subject line.


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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge planned a National Cancer Prevention program for the February stated meeting. Of the 94 that responded:

100% - yes


Thirty-eight percent said the program included a guest presenter from outside the lodge. Fifty percent noted that attendance was higher than at regular stated meetings.

Here’s your next question.





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