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Milestones celebrated at 10th annual LPS Education Foundation luncheon

The LPS Education Foundation celebrated milestones during its recent fund-raising luncheon event held at St. Mary’s Cultural and Banquet Center in Livonia.

A major fund-raiser for the LPS Education Foundation’s Competitive Edge College Savings Program, the luncheon hosted more than 200 guests from around the community.

“Today, we can pause to reflect on longevity; on commitment; on community and count ourselves fortunate to enjoy the support that the LPS Education Foundation provides to our schools and also the support that is consistently shown to the Foundation by our community,” said Livonia Public Schools Superintendent Andrea Oquist.

Foundation President Lorna Durand offered an update on the Competitive Edge College Savings Program, which provides LPS kindergarten students with the opportunity to sign up for a free account, to which the Foundation makes a donation. The program has approximately 3,000 students enrolled, who will receive a check upon graduating from LPS.

“This spring, we will be issuing checks to our first graduating cohort group. We are extremely excited,” said Durand.

The other main program of the LPS Education Foundation is the Grant Program. During the first six years of this program, the Foundation has awarded 107 grants totaling approximately $214,000. The grants help to support classrooms, the curriculum and the Shared Vision of the school district.

“We continue to be very supportive of the educational needs of our students, staff and families in our community,” said Durand. “We appreciate the support of the community and we especially appreciate and value your support by being here today. We are very thankful for the generous financial support of our corporate donors and community members – you are the key to our success and we thank you.”

Guests of the luncheon not only learned the latest news from the Foundation, but they also learned some “fun facts” about one of the state’s most popular tourist destinations.

Bill Parlberg, President and Chief Operating Officer of the iconic Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth, served up a behind-the-scenes look at the 1,500-seat restaurant that is known for its chicken dinners.

Serving nearly 1 million meals per year, Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth employs more than 900 staff and operates on the motto, “Every Guest Leaves Satisfied.”

Parlberg, who began his career at Zehnder’s as a dishwasher while he was in high school, now oversees the operation of the famed restaurant as well as the Splash Village Hotel and Waterpark, the Fortress 18-hole golf course and the Zehnder’s retail division.

Parlberg serves as chairman of the Michigan Travel Commission and was instrumental in bringing forth the Pure Michigan marketing campaign.

WJR sports radio personality and Livonia resident Steve Courtney once again served as the emcee of the Foundation luncheon. He was honored by the Foundation for his long-term commitment to this event, having served as its emcee for the past 10 years. Father George Shalhoub, of the Basilica of St. Mary Orthodox Church was also recognized for hosting the luncheon for each of the past 10 years.

To learn more about the LPS Education Foundation and its programs, please visit www.lpsfoundation.org.

Bill Parlberg

Zehnder's President and COO Bill Parlberg was the keynote speaker at the 10th annual LPS Education Foundation luncheon. 

Steve Courtney

WJR's Steve Courtney was honored for serving as luncheon emcee for the past 10 years. 

Foundation President Lorna Durand, left, and Past President Diane Policelli, right, issued Courtney a plaque to recognize his longstanding commitment to the Foundation. 

Father George

Father George, of Basilica of St. Mary Orthodox church was honored for hosting the luncheon for the past 10 years. 

Foundation President Lorna Durand and Past President Diane Policelli issued Father George a plaque to recognize his longstanding commitment to the Foundation. 

luncheon crowd

More than 200 people came to support the LPS Education Foundation at this year's luncheon, held at St. Mary's Cultural and Banquet Center.