Vandegrift wins contest at LEEF gala

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

The Vandegrift team of principals and administrators won the top prize of $7,000 for Project Graduation at the Leander ISD Educational Excellence Foundation 3rd annual gala on Saturday.

LEEF’s executive director, Gloria Gonzales estimates that $125,000 was raised for LEEF programs and initiatives. More than 450 guests filled a ballroom at the Hilton Austin for the sold-out event on Jan. 27.  

The highlight of the gala was the 1970s’ inspired, lip sync battle between the six LISD high school principals and their feeder path middle and elementary school principals and administration.

These teams competed for $15,000 in cash prizes for each school’s Project Graduation.

The Vandegrift team took first place with their musical journey of a first-year teacher winning $7,000 for Project Graduation.

Project Graduation is unique in that, unlike booster clubs, the committee in charge of fundraising consists only of parents of seniors, and is a different group every year,” said Charlie Little, VHS principal.

It can be a challenge for Project Graduation to consistently raise money for this important senior event, especially when they are competing with all of the other student organizations for donations, he added.

“So, winning $7,000 is a huge infusion to their budget and will help ensure we can create a truly special event for our graduates,” Little said. “On behalf of the entire VHS community, we appreciate LEEF’s support.”

The second-place lip sync contest prize of $4,000 was awarded to the Rouse team. All other high school teams were awarded $1,000 each for their performances.  

“The LEEF board is extremely appreciative to our amazing school principals and administrators for performing on stage with so much enthusiasm – their dedication to students in unwavering,” Gonzales said.

LEEF strives to ensure that every student in LISD has the opportunity to succeed. The monies raised from the gala will support LEEF’s district-wide programs, such as early literacy initiatives, innovative teacher grants, scholarships for Advanced Placement exams and dual-credit textbooks, and college and career projects.

Visit for more information about LEEF.


Dear LEEF Board members and VHS administration:

I want to personally say thank you to both of these organizations for their support of each other and ultimately their support of Project Graduation at every high school here within Leander ISD. Project Graduation is the safe, all-night party for graduating seniors to attend right after the commencement.   

For the students who attend it is a party; a last night to hang together as a class. For the parents, it is peace of mind knowing their teen is somewhere safe during the night they are celebrating their success – completing high school.

But Project Graduation serves a bigger community of people. It is also an event for all district elementary and middle schools; every parent in the district; every single business and community member of the district. How tragic would it be if one or more of our seniors were injured or died on graduation night while celebrating? The effect would ripple far and wide through each area of Leander ISD.   

The purpose of Project Graduation is to keep the seniors safe. It gives them a venue to celebrate and be safe from accidental injury or death from drugs, alcohol or other illegal activity and not just within their peer group, but from others who may be out on the road, driving drunk or engaging in illegal activity. Any student could suffer the consequences of someone else’s poor decision.

Countless volunteers work tirelessly every year to fundraise and plan an event that their senior students will enjoy. From venue selection, fundraising, promoting, security, transportation, extra activities and prizes, each high school has parents who help achieve the goal of hosting a great party for their seniors.

LEEF’s “Drop the Mic” Gala event on Saturday featured performances from each feeder pattern high school in the district. Each had the opportunity to compete for a winning prize of money donated to their Project Graduation. We, as the VHS Project Graduation committee, are honored that the administration and faculty of Vandegrift High School and all the schools that feed into VHS dedicated their time and talent to create the winning performance that earned a donation of $7,000.00 to VHS Project Graduation.

Our sincerest gratitude goes out to you and to the entire community for their commitment to Project Graduation. Our graduating seniors will certainly have a safe night to cherish as they enter into the next steps of their journey.

Sareta Heath
President, VHS Project Grad 2018






The Vandegrift team won the LEEF Gala “Drop the Mic Saturday Night Fever” lip sync battle on Saturday night. L-R Wendy Sturdevant, associate principal at VHS, Tina Pasak, River Place Elementary principal, Charlie Little, VHS principal, Rebecca Rainey, Steiner Ranch Elementary assistant principal, Kristin Pryor, VHS assistant principal, Alison Pennington, Four Points Middle School AP, Kristine Kline, Laura Bush Elementary School principal, Kristine Keel, Canyon Ridge Middle School AP, and Shelley Roberts, River Ridge Elementary principal. Kathy Sparks Goecke, principal at Grandview Elementary, was in the performance but not in the photo.


Vandegrift Project Graduation 2018 board members attended the Leander ISD Educational Excellence Foundation’s 3rd annual Gala on Saturday including: Sally Banta (sitting, vice president of fundraising) with husband Mark, right, Geoff and Mary Scherer, (middle, treasurers), and Sareta Heath, right, president, with husband Brad, left.