WISHES GRANTED: About 30 East County teachers have some shiny new materials in their classrooms.

Thanks to Google's major gift to the crowd-funding site DonorsChoose, 604 Bay Area teachers found their requested materials had been paid in full. Google shelled out $666,900 for 718 school-related projects.

The Mountain View company wanted to help local schools and, along with DonorsChoose, came up with the big give.

One of those winning teachers was Christine Marshall. The teacher from Antioch's Orchard Park School scored her "Fitness to Boost Brain Power" materials.

"This is my third project I got funded this year," she said. "Being a fitness fanatic, I ordered some equipment so I can do extra PE with my class to get them moving."

The second-grade teacher is happy with winning this equipment.

"I think kids need to be active daily. There are numerous studies showing how kids actually improve academically with exercise."

And, to think Marshall had nearly given up on her $824 request. When she received the good news via email, she was shocked to find it completely funded.

"It totally made my day. My kids were thrilled to hear that we are getting more free stuff."

Marshall's package included balls, safety cones and flags for football.

Katie Bartling is another local educator thrilled about the big Google give.

She is one of four teachers from Brentwood's Adams Middle School to have a project funded.


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The sixth-grade math and science teacher had posted that "Most of my students have not had the farm-to-table experience," adding that a school garden would take her students out of the class and into the garden, where they could learn about composting, and literally "see the fruits of their labors grow."

Bartling thinks the entire school will benefit. Her garden package includes tools, hoses, gloves and four raised planter beds, totaling $1,100.

"I was thinking it was nice of Google to fund me ... why was I so special? Then I realized they had funded the entire Bay Area and I was just beside myself. I was honored to live in an area that was supported in such a fabulous way.

"I was most excited about (telling) the students we were actually going to be able to get started."

And, it gets even better for Bartling. Terra Care of Brentwood is donating the landscaping potion of the project. "They will be doing all of the irrigation, planting and management for a year."

Here's how East County fared in Google gift-giving event: Two schools from Antioch; one from Bay Point; 15 from Brentwood (including three teachers from Heritage High); three from Oakley; and eight schools from Pittsburg, which included two teachers from Stoneman Elementary. Visit www.donorschoose.org.

SING IT LOUD: Hayley Finetti's strong rendition of "Don't Rain On My Parade" took top honors at the annual East County Idol contest.

The Liberty High School freshman received $400 for her impressive efforts, while second place and $200 went to Nicholas Crossen, an American Idol top 50 finalist and graduate of Holy Rosary School. The now junior at De La Salle Academy sang "Cry Me A River."

Third place and $100 went to Victoria Young, a 2012 East County idol finalist and senior at Connections Academy. She performed "Feeling Good."

This year, 17 talents from 12 East County high schools participated in the contest held at Antioch's historic El Campanil Theatre.

Walter Ruehlig, Antioch Music Foundation president, said this may have been the strongest year. "It was a horse race and photo finish with the thinnest of margins separating the contestants. There seemed to be a top tier of six or seven who particularly knocked the audience off their feet."

Ruehlig was once again honored to have veteran music teacher Sharon Vela running auditions, prepping the performers and putting together "an engaging flow that kept 350 people glued to their chairs for the program."

WALK OF FAME: Liberty Union High School District's annual Hall of Fame ceremony is set for April 26.

This year's honorees are: The 2000 Liberty Boys Golf team, J.W. "Jay" Anderson (Class of 1949), Bill Chato (Class of 1968), Kate Dwelley (Class of 2007), Amy Foreman Gerace (Class of 1994), Alana Roderick Knowles (Class of 1983), and Monique Renslow Lewis (Class of 1992).

The awards ceremony and dinner will be held at 6 p.m. that Saturday at Heritage High School, 101 American Ave. in Brentwood. Tickets are $40. For more info, call 925-634-2565, ext. 1100 or 925-625-5900 ext. 3044.

If you have school news to share, contact Trine Gallegos at trineg@att.net. Note: Trine also does community outreach for Antioch High.