Then-17-year-old Priscila Jimenez Corrales, and a senior at Central Union High School in El Centro, paints a portrait of her grandparents from an old photograph as a present to her mother, Martha Turnage. The largely untrained artist won 51st District Congressional Art Competition sponsored by U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas, D-Chula Vista, in May. On Thursday, Oct. 7, two of her pieces will be featured at the Imperial County Office of Education Foundation for Education’s inaugural Autumn & the Arts Fundraiser. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. PHOTO
EL CENTRO — Imperial County Office of Education Foundation for Education is in full preparation for its inaugural Autumn & the Arts fundraiser on Thursday, Oct. 7, to celebrate the artistic talents of Imperial Valley students.
The event will be a first for the foundation and feature a large sampling of the work of Valley students to be auctioned to help raise funds for the foundation’s new scholarship program, which go toward students in alternative education and continuation schools and to students with special needs who will be pursuing higher education.
The first 10 scholarships were awarded in 2021 and 10 will be awarded in 2022, according to ICOE staff member Magali Meza, who is helping organize the event for the foundation.
“Receiving this scholarship allowed all of the hard work I put into school to pay off by giving me the opportunity to attend my dream school,” 2021 Calexico High School graduate Mariana Ledesma told the foundation. “Looking into the future, some of my goals are to attend medical school, become a pediatric surgeon, and help as many people as I can along the way.”
Ledesma told the Calexico Chronicle in April that she has suffered debilitating migraines that have landed her in the emergency room since she was a sophomore in high school. She is now attending Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md.
The main source of this year’s scholarships will be a live auction that will feature eight pieces of art from students and graduates of Imperial Valley high schools, Meza said.
Two of those pieces will be from Priscila Jimenez, a 2021 graduate of Central Union High School now attending University of California, Davis, where she is studying sustainable environmental design.
“I just hope to help in any way,” Jimenez said of her participation. “I would just like to contribute to the foundation trying to make some kind of a difference out there.”
One of Jimenez’s pieces, “My New Classroom,” is particularly significant since it is a still life study of the impromptu distance-learning setup students all over the country were forced to adapt to as COVID-19 sent them home, she told the Chronicle in May.
Two sculptures have also been donated by DS Studios and Gallery in Brawley. The Rainforest Art Project has donated an Adirondack chair that was assembled by the Central Union High’s CTE (career-technical education) construction class for the auction as well and laser-engraved boxes by students at Southwest High School.
All aspects of the event will showcase Valley student work. A Cuban-style menu will be served and cooked by high school culinary arts programs from Brawley Union High School, Calexico High School and Southwest High School. Guests will enjoy music and entertainment provided by the Southwest High School orchestra and SAVAPA Music.
Meza said the foundation has already begun to see the impact this scholarship has left on the recipients from just the first year. Another student, Valley Academy graduate Christopher Paez, shared his thoughts.
“Receiving this scholarship inspired me to work hard for my career because I now know there is support to help me along the way,” he said. “I realize I am not alone in my efforts to pursue a higher education. I am sincerely grateful for your support and I cannot thank you enough.”
“The arts are such an important part of education,” stated Dr. Todd Finnell, county superintendent of schools and president of the Foundation for Education, in a press release.
“We look forward to sharing the gifts and talents of our students and our community, and we truly appreciate the support we’ve received from our schools, our local artists, and our small business community to make this event happen. We’re very excited to host this special evening of celebration in support of our students and the arts,” Finnell continued.
The celebration and auction will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday in the new ICOE Conference Center, 4202 Sperber Road, west of the main ICOE campus. Tickets for the fundraiser are $100 each and can be purchased at http://foundation.icoe.org/fundraiser.