By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
BREVARD -- Help Gemini Elementary School make a "racquet" next week, as it hosts the second annual Tennis for Technology Tournament.
The event, which is hosted in partnership with the Melbourne Beach Rotary Club, will be held Friday, Sept. 13 and Saturday, Sept. 14 at the Kiwi Tennis Club in Indian Harbour Beach. Tennis enthusiasts and spectators alike from throughout the county are encouraged to attend.
"When Gemini's Parent-Teacher Organization learned about the budget challenges our school faced, we were motivated to try new fundraising ideas," said Catherine Dunlop, PTO President for Gemini Elementary. "We learned that very little budget is allocated for technology at the school. In fact, Gemini was allocated $1,800 for technology needs for the entire school year. That doesn't even cover the cost of keeping light bulbs updated in the teacher's doc cams."
Hoping to create a fundraising event that would be fun for families and children, as well as focusing on physical fitness and involving the community, Tennis for Technology was born.
"We have a lot of people in our community, who are into physical fitness and love to play tennis, so we thought a tennis tournament would be a great way to raise money for the school," Mrs. Dunlop said.
The first Gemini Elementary Tennis for Technology tournament was a huge success, raising $10,000 for technology at the Melbourne Beach elementary school.
"We had over 200 people attend the event, which included 80 children," Mrs. Dunlop added. "Participants included families, community leaders, teachers and administration. It was a great mix of people."
Because the Tennis for Technology tournament was so successful, Gemini's PTO decided to add the 5K Sunset Run, as a spring fundraiser.
"The best thing about our events is that 100 percent of the sponsor money goes directly toward funding technology at Gemini," Mrs. Dunlop said. "The participation fees for the events more than cover our expenses, and the PTO works very hard to ensure we keep our expenses to a minimum."
Mrs. Dunlop added that the Kiwi Tennis Club generously donates the court time for the Tennis for Technology tournament.
To help promote the tournament, Gemini Elementary's PTO worked with the Melbourne Beach Rotary Club.
"Gemini Elementary and the Melbourne Beach Rotary Club have had a relationship for years," Mrs. Dunlop said. "This year, the Melbourne Beach Rotary offered Gemini Elementary an honorary membership, and Gemini's PTO now has a member on the Rotary, which has solidified this close partnership."
Recently, the Melbourne Beach Rotary Club awarded Gemini Elementary a grant to help fund the school's Accelerated Reader Program.
"Partnering with Gemini Elementary is a natural fit for the Rotary Club's mission of service to the community," said Eric Smith, president of the Melbourne Beach Rotary Club in a press release. "An event like Tennis for Technology emphasizes education, fitness, community-building and getting our kids ready for the future, with current technology. We encourage everyone to come swing a racquet or cheer the players at this wonderful event."
As well as using the funds from this year's event to maintain current technology at Gemini Elementary, Mrs. Dunlop said that the PTO plans to purchase iPads for the school.
"The one thing about technology is that it requires money to keep it going," Mrs. Dunlop said. "Last year, we used the money to purchase iPads, as well as update the communications system in the sixth-grade wing."
This year's Tennis for Technology tournament begins on Friday, Sept. 13 with the Women's Doubles Round Robin Tournament, with lunch from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There is a $40 play fee.
The Men's Doubles Round Robin Tournament kicks off Saturday, Sept. 14 events, from 3 to 5 p.m, with a $40 play fee.
The Kid's Clinic and entertainment runs from 4 to 7 p.m., with a Pro Exhibition Game and hor d'oeuvres reception from 5 to 7 p.m. There is a $20 fee for the Kid's Clinic.
"We are selling spectator tickets, which are $25," Mrs. Dunlop said. "The ticket includes lunch at the Women's tournament, as well as the Saturday event."
In addition to the previously listed events, Mrs. Dunlop said that the PTO will also be hosting a World Team Tennis Match.
"This is an entertaining game of tennis between the teachers, community leaders and young children," she added.
Gemini Elementary's principal, Joseph Loffek is looking forward to the second annual Tennis for Technology tournament.
"Our teachers and students deserve the very best of educational technology. As we are well aware, schools continue to have budget struggles, and this year will be more of the same," Principal Mr. Loffek said.
Despite economic challenges, Gemini Elementary has achieved an "A" status on the state accountability plan for the 13th year in a row, while also ranking as the sixth-highest performing elementary school in Brevard.
"This wonderful achievement comes from the combined efforts of teachers, staff, students, parents and, of course, our fabulous community," Mr. Loffek added. "Come on out and support our tennis tournament. All money raised will directly support our high achieving school."
Mrs. Dunlop mirrors Mr. Loffek's enthusiasm, as the Gemini Elementary PTO gears up for next weekend's tournament.
"If you like to watch or play tennis, or just hang out with friends, this is a great event to attend," Mrs. Dunlop said. "Kiwi Tennis Club is a beautiful venue. Last year, the children loved playing tennis with their friends and enjoyed the food. It was nice to hear and see so many children having fun."
Gemini Elementary PTO, in partnership with the Melbourne Beach Rotary Club, will host the second annual Tennis for Technology Tournament on Friday, Sept. 13 and Saturday, Sept. 14 at Kiwi Tennis Club.
Kiwi Tennis Club is located at 30 Tradewinds Drive, Indian Harbour Beach.
For more information or to register, visit www.geminipto.org/tennis-for-technology/ or contact Catherine Dunlop at firstname.lastname@example.org or (917) 825-0467. After registration, players must contact Mrs. Dunlop to indicate player level.