CPS honors local businesses

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COLUMBIA — More than 180 local businesses are making contributions to public school students in Columbia, from teaching classes to hosting field trips. 

"We have about 50 filing cabinets full of stuff" they do, said CPS Communications Director Michelle Baumstark. 

The contributions are all a part of the Partners in Education program, an initiative that forms partnerships between local businesses and Columbia Public Schools. The program started 32 years ago and, on Friday morning, CPS will host a celebration breakfast at the Holiday Inn in Columbia to recognize businesses that have made major contributions. 

One of the partnerships set to be recognized is between University of Missouri Health and Hickman High School. According to Baumstark, thanks to this partnership, some Hickman students get to spend part of their school day working with physicians at the hospital, and benefit from hands-on experience. 

"It's a goal for our district to make sure that when our students graduate that they're prepared for either post-secondary education or careers. We want them to be successful when they leave Columbia Public Schools, and one of the ways to do that is to have our partner organizations in the community teach them what they know," Baumstark said. 

Baumstark said some organizations help fund scholarships for students who aspire to go to college, but may not have the financial flexibility to do so. But, more than anything, she said it's the quality time these organizations spend helping CPS students that really makes a difference. 

"They really do provide an extra set of hands for some of our school districts that maybe struggle with getting as many parents or volunteers in those buildings, so that's a gap that our partners are able to fill, showing support to our students and showing them something outside of what they'd see on a regular school day."

A ten-year partnership between Ragtag Film Society and Lee Expressive Arts Elementary School will also be celebrated Friday morning. Recently, CPS set aside a $114,300 grant to fund Ragtag's "Media Literacy Initiative," a campaign centered around teaching CPS students to be thoughtful, critical consumers of media. The grant gives CPS screening rights for films, and go toward training for teachers who wish to incorporate film into the classroom. 

Ragtag Film Society represents Ragtag Cinema, as well as the True/False Film Festival. Thanks to the grant, students will also have the opportunity to attend year-round field trips to the cinema for screenings, as well as a free film screening and filmmaker Q&A at the True/False Film Fest.  

The anniversary breakfast starts at 7:15 a.m. at the Holiday Inn Select Expo Center, and is open to the public.