News Flash


Posted on: March 3, 2021

Williams-Rockwell Education Gift Fund Committee Awards nearly $200,000 in Grants


Norman Rockwell, 'Willie Gillis In Convoy,' signed 'Norman Rockwell' (lower right), oil on canvas, 43 by 34 1/4 inches, painted in 1941. Estimate: $1.5 million/$2.5 million. Image courtesy Sotheby's.The Williams-Rockwell Educational Gift Fund Committee met on March 1st to distribute this year’s round of grants to applicants from the Gardner Public School System. The committee was able to distribute $190,823.24 for sixteen different projects which will take place over the remainder of the academic year and beyond.


The Williams-Rockwell Education Gift Fund was established in 2014 following the auction of Norman Rockwell’s “Willie Gillis in the Convoy” painting. The fund was set up to provide financial assistance to projects and programs requested by the faculty and administration of Gardner Public Schools to enrich the experiences of Gardner’s students. The grants are funded by the interest and capital gains earned from investments of the sale price of the painting.


From the auction to the disbursement of the grants, the Williams-Rockwell Educational Gift Fund has been a collective effort in bringing about a way to give back to the city and its students for years to come. To date, the Committee has awarded $448,682.30


Mayor Michael Nicholson, Chairman of the Committee said “With everything crazy that has been going on this year, it is great for us to provide this funding to make long term differences in the experiences our students have at Gardner Public Schools. I am especially excited to see the new upgrades to Landry Auditorium and how this can enrich what our music and art programs can offer at Gardner High School.”

Doug Lepisto, the Gardner High Band Director, was the largest recipient of this year’s grant, receiving $100,000 for auditorium renovations. He stated “Auditorium renovations are something Joanne Landry (Gardner High School’s Chorus Teacher) and I have been looking into together with administration and facilities staff for the past couple of years. We are very grateful to receive this grant and excited to get started with the replacement of seats and flooring. Ideally this is just the first step of a larger project which will include replacing the broken sound system and upgrading the lights. It has been 20 years since any major work has been done to the auditorium, and it is our goal is to create a space that will better serve our students and community as a whole for years to come.” 

Gardner’s Superintendent of Public Schools, Mark Pellegrino said “The Williams-Rockwell grants, afforded by this generous program, have once again facilitated a number of improvements in our schools' programs. These grants affect our resources and facilities which ultimately improves our culture and our students' experience in Gardner Public Schools. These grants have continued to help Gardner Public Schools finance resources that would otherwise be unattainable.” 


For a detailed list of the grants that were awarded, please see below.






Awarded Amount

Emily Pescosolido


Gardner Middle School

Funding the 7th Grade Digital Library



Demetrios Tyros


Gardner High School


GHS Maker-Space Innovation Table


$ 33,057.00 


Kristen Bastarache

Waterford Street School

Playground & Gym Visual Support Limited & Non-verbal Students



Traci Podrazik

Gardner Middle School


Nature's Classroom


$ 10,000.00 

Daniel Forte

Gardner High & Middle School

User Fee Offset


$  5,525.00 

Julie Campbell

Gardner High School

GHS Weekend Backpack Program

$ 2,000.00 

Larry Zuaro

Gardner Middle School

GMS Chorus & School Tech Support

$ 5,124.95 

Kathy MacKay

Elm Street School

Musical Instruments for Students to Play

$ 2,344.30 

Kelly McGavin

Gardner Academy

Digital Microscopes & Stop Motion Videos

$ 1,509.00 

Catherine Goguen


District Office

Purchase of a Literacy Software Program


Derek Beauregard

Gardner Academy

Dual Shot Basketball Game


Josh Perkins

Gardner Middle School

3D Scanner/Printer and CAD Design Software


Claire Higgins

Gardner Middle School

Art Choice Learning Stations


Doug Lepisto

Gardner High School

Landry Auditorium Renovations


Jon Stalnecker

Gardner High School

Art Tables and Rolling Storage Cart


Traci Podrazik

Gardner Middle School

Summer Reading Program Books



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