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Public school support

Partner with a local school

Your April checklist

For your Trestleboard

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Question of the month


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Public school support

In San Diego Unified School District, a “partnership in education” program connects public schools to local businesses and organizations for support. S.W. Hackett Lodge No. 574 has been among these public partners since 1998, and for the past nine years members have been devoted to Sequoia Elementary School. In addition to answering one-off needs throughout the year, the lodge has established several annual events and activities.

“S.W. Hackett Lodge is by far our best partnership within the community,” says Sequoia Elementary Principal Ryan Kissel. “They have helped many, many families over the years here.”

James Achenbach, past master and current chair of the lodge’s Public Schools Committee, explains.

Dynamic support

  • The lodge’s Public Schools Committee stays in regular contact with school administrators. This way, we learn of the school’s needs as they arise, and can organize lodge support to help out.
  • Over the years, we have provided backpacks filled with school supplies; renovated classrooms; erected a flagpole; donated funds to buy library books; provided musical instruments and supplies; and more.

Holiday deliveries

  • Every year a school secretary or counselor identifies five or six families that are struggling and demonstrate significant need for the holidays. The lodge provides everything they need for a holiday meal, a gift card for the family, and gifts for the children.
  • At lodge, we announce all the food and gift items that are needed, and individual members sign up to provide them.
  • On the day of the deliveries, we load up a vehicle for each family, and a few brothers personally deliver the food and gifts. It’s a very moving and rewarding experience.

Spelling bee

  • Each spring we sponsor the Sequoia Elementary School spelling bee for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. We provide $75, $50, and $25 cash prizes to the first, second, and third place winners in each grade. The teachers talk about these prizes year-round to motivate students.
  • Lodge members and families make a special effort to attend. The school always reserves the first few rows of the auditorium for the lodge.
  • The principal takes a moment at the beginning of the event to thank our lodge.

Teacher of the Year dinner

  • Every year the school selects a Teacher of the Year, and we honor him or her at our June stated meeting dinner. The teacher, principal, and their families are guests of honor.
  • We provide each teacher with a framed certificate and honorarium. We’ve collected photos over the years of the master and principal awarding these certificates together.
  • The principal gives remarks congratulating the teachers and thanking our lodge.
  • The teacher says a few words. We provide suggestions ahead of time: what brought them to teaching, their experience working with children at this particular elementary school, and what it means to have the support of community members.

Advice to other lodges

  • Many larger school districts already have a community partnership program in place. Start with the administration offices, and ask how your lodge can get involved.
  • Try to avoid simply writing checks. To make the experience more meaningful for lodge members, work with the school to figure out opportunities for active participation.
  • Be open to ways for the students and school to reciprocate support. Sequoia Elementary School has invited our lodge to community recognition events, and students poured ice tea and coffee at our stated meeting.
  • Get your whole lodge on board. A long line of lodge leaders have prioritized this school partnership, and our fraternal family is very generous with its support and time.

“S.W. Hackett Lodge models what it means to be good citizens for our students,” says Principal Kissel. “They demonstrate to our kids, ‘We care about you.’ They stress the importance of obtaining a good education.”

Contact: Jim Achenbach

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Partner with a local school

Year-round, public schools need community partners to step up and support them. Here are tips for forming a meaningful partnership between your lodge and a local school.

  • Start with school district administrators. Schedule a meeting or start a correspondence asking for their help identifying a school that needs support.
  • Organize a face-to-face meeting with the school principal. Explain that you’d like to partner with them, and ask what kind of support they could use most. If you need ideas, use this list of 25 ways to support schools.
  • Establish one lodge brother to be the main point of contact. Set up regular communication – such as a meeting or phone call every other month – with the principal or another administrator to talk about the school’s short-term and long-term needs.
  • At each stated meeting, update brethren on upcoming activities and calls for support.
  • Create opportunities for educators and students to visit the lodge. Invite the principal or teachers to talk about the challenges and rewards of their job, or “hire” a student club to serve stated meeting dinner as a fundraiser.
  • Consider sponsoring an annual school event such as a spelling bee or awards dinner. This will put a public face on the partnership, and establish a long-term tradition.

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Your April checklist

Stay on track of lodge business and prepare for important deadlines. Here’s your March checklist:

Executive Committee

Senior Warden

  • Continue preparing 2017 program plan
  • Continue preparing 2017 budget
  • Continue preparing 2017 officer appointments
  • Continue preparing 2017 installation of officers
  • Review all candidates’ progress towards advancement


  • Continue to collect delinquent dues from members (were due on January 1)
  • Send list of members with late dues to the Retention Committee
  • Send any suspension notices via certified mail
  • Provide necessary information so Charity Committee can consider remissions


  • If your lodge has employees, file quarterly federal payroll tax form 941 (unless IRS has approved an annual filing of form 944, due in February)
  • If your lodge has employees, file quarterly state payroll tax form DE9/DE9C and deposit form DE88
  • Prepare IRS form 990 and FTB form 199, both due by May 15 (unless your lodge has previously agreed to have Grand Lodge prepare these forms)

Audit Committee

  • Audit lodge books, to be completed by end of month

Hall Association

  • Prepare form 200, due to Grand Lodge May 15
  • Prepare insurance premium payment, due in May
  • Prepare IRS form 990 and FTB form 199, both due by May 15 (unless your hall is live on Intacct and the hall agreed to have Grand Lodge prepare these forms for a fee)

Questions? Contact Member Services at or (415) 776-7000.

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For your Trestleboard

With the spotlight on public schools this month, it’s a good time to remind your lodge about the other young people who rely on their support: the young men and women of Job’s Daughters, Rainbow for Girls, and DeMolay. The three Masonic youth orders need adult leaders. Use this ad to encourage your members to get involved.

This month: Get Involved With Masonic Youth ad
Publish in your Trestleboard, email to your membership, or print out and post at the lodge.

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Find it on

Each issue of The Leader delivers useful and timely information for leading your lodge, featuring

  • Best practices
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  • Reminders

All issues are available on Select The Leader from the News dropdown menu, and browse more than seven years’ worth of advice, tips, and tools.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge uses the new candidate coaching program. Of those who responded:

54% - Yes
28% - No
18% - Don't know

Of those that use the new program, 90 percent rated its usefulness as a 7 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being “very useful”).

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Contact Us

Grand Lodge of California
1111 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

p: (415) 776-7000