Luncheon crowd is treated to some uplifting messages

The fire was burning bright for the Northshore Public Education Foundation last Wednesday.

The fire was burning bright for the Northshore Public Education Foundation last Wednesday.

During its “Light a Fire for Learning” benefit luncheon at the Lynnwood Convention Center, the sold-out crowd of 350 people were treated to an array of uplifting talks by school-board officials and keynote speaker Eric Liu, who gave the attendees a boost with his stories about the art of mentoring.

The foundation is a nonprofit organization that “raises money to fund academic excellence for every student in the Northshore School District,” according to its brochure. Along with its Elementary Math Initiative and Secondary Advanced Learning project, the foundation has given more than 200 grants to teachers to propel their students to new learning heights in math, science, literacy and art.

Speaking of the arts, if other district students can match or outdo the Canyon Creek Elementary sixth-grade marimba ensemble’s performances at the luncheon, then the foundation is on the right track.

And moving fast, I’m sure.

“The district helped fulfill the needs of my child, and we plan to help fulfill the needs of other children,” said luncheon co-chair B-Z Davis, whose daughter now works at Children’s Hospital.

Added Liu in his earlier talk: “Show them the way, and they will stand — they will rise.”

It’s small catch-phrases like these that can make people feel like they can do anything they set their mind to. It takes a few seconds to say them, but the message can last a lifetime.

I can talk for hours about speeches or song lyrics that have uplifted me and others over the years, but let’s let Liu pitch in his two cents — more like $1 million to many people’s ears.

He spoke of people connecting with each other and working toward a common goal, much like the foundation’s dream of educating our youths.

The author touched on purpose (“by saving someone, you can save yourself”), failure (“turn it into the stuff of new invention, creation”) and possibility (“it’s never too late”).

He told uplifting stories all across the board, and got people thinking, talking and even laughing.

He lit a fire in people’s minds, and gave them hope to carry on and make life great for local students — and themselves.

He encouraged us to continue the education dream of Karen Forys and Karen Baker, two major school-district forces who passed away over the last year. Their husbands accepted Torchbearer’s Awards for them.

Some tears were shed during the husbands’ speeches and slide show honoring the two women.

There were also tears of joy for their accomplishments — and the students’ present and future success.