IPSF Awards Grants to Students and Teachers


Charlotte Cao

Ceramics teacher Donovan Miller examines his old gas ceramic kiln. The new kiln, which will be purchased using money from the IPSF grant, will be able to undergo eight different types of firings, allowing for the clay to have a variety of textures.

Irvine Public Schools Foundation awarded five grants to Portola High student and teacher groups who requested funding for upcoming projects on Feb. 26 as part of the annual Innovative Grant Program. 

Senior Saoud Moon, junior Shailee Sankhala and Woodbridge High senior Simrah Ahmad received a Student Grant award for Crossroads Initiative, a publication that advocates for mental health reform. 

The students will use the grant to improve their online website. The magazine had to immediately halt their print publications when the pandemic began last year due to hygiene restrictions. The online website, which was established before the pandemic, has temporarily become the focus of the publication’s media. 

“We’re planning on improving our sustainability, and we’re going to be spending money towards establishing our magazine subscriptions so that we are able to actually have premium features and provide our users with better content,” Sankhala said. 

Ceramics teacher Donovan Miller received a grant for the multipurpose ceramic kiln. He will use the grant to quadruple the amount of high-temperature heaters needed for firing, the chemical process that makes clay stronger.

“I thought that it would be a great opportunity for the students in the program to experience different types of firings because they can expand their artistic vision and also get exposure to art techniques from different cultures,” Miller said. 

Librarians Amanada Cramer and Melissa Misenhimmer received a grant to incorporate more challenging books in the Learning Commons, while literary and language arts teachers Jill Cavotta, Amanda D’Avila, Madeline Greenwood, Kathy Hooper and Brianna Rapp received a grant for diverse literature

Music teachers Desmond Stevens and Kyle Traska received a grant to help fund music performances during the pandemic. 

According to the IPSF website, the Innovative Grant Program has benefited as many as 200,000 students and given over $2 million to school staff since 1996.