Marquis Energy gives five schools $50,000 apiece for science, math, ag
HENNEPIN — Donate $50,000 apiece to five area high schools, and what do you get?
Two hundred fifty thousand reasons to recognize Marquis Energy LLC for tremendously generous bequests to Princeton High School, Bureau Valley High School, Hall High School, St. Bede Academy and Putnam County High School.
The money is to be used in advancing the fields of science, math or agricultural studies at all five schools.
“The success of our local students is a major priority to Marquis, and we hope this investment makes a lasting impact in the lives of our future leaders,” Mark Marquis, CEO of Marquis Energy, said.
“Our students have big aspirations, and we look forward to seeing these future generations better the world,” Marquis said.
Marquis Energy made the bequests, totaling $250,000, Thursday afternoon at its Prairie Industrial Parkway facility in Hennepin.
The donations are an opportunity for Marquis Energy to support local education during financially challenging times, according to Danielle Anderson, executive assistant and director of public relations and political affairs for the company.
“Because of the state shortfall this year, they really wanted to step in and be that community supporter,” Anderson said.
“They (Marquis Energy) care about the local community, and this is one way they can help out our future generations,” she said.
Reactions from the five recipient school districts were a mixture of surprise, gratitude and anticipation.
Princeton High School Principal Andy Berlinski said he reacted like anyone would react who just learned of an unexpected $50,000 donation.
“I really was kind of shocked, honestly,” Berlinski said.
Berlinski said the money will be focused on the areas of science, technology, engineering, math and agriculture, as requested by Marquis Energy.
“We’re really excited for the possibilities it will afford our students in those curricular areas,” he said, “and we’re grateful to Marquis Energy.”
Berlinski said a meeting was held Friday with teachers in those specified areas. The intent, Berlinski said, is to spread out the funds as much as possible to get the most long-term benefits.
Berlinski praised the Marquis family for its commitment to education.
“They are just a great family to be associated with,” he said.
Bureau Valley Superintendent Eric Lawson said his school district was honored to receive the donation.
“The students and staff in the Bureau Valley School District are elated to utilize the funds for future enhancement in our science curriculum,” Lawson said.
“Bureau Valley continues to focus on STEM education and environmental sciences,” he said. “With the additional funds provided by Marquis Energy, students in the Bureau Valley School District will be exposed to high-level science careers and educational opportunities.”
At Hall High School, Superintendent Jay McCracken said the administration and board were “extraordinarily honored” by the $50,000 donation, adding, “We’re very overwhelmed and gratified, and we’ll make sure it is put to good use for our students.”
McCracken praised Marquis Energy for its support.
“They value high quality education in our communities. We were very touched by their donation,” he said.
Hall Principal Jesse Brandt added his thoughts:
“We were shocked when we heard of the donation and the amount,” Brandt said. “We are very thankful for the generous donation. We appreciate the Marquis family and their support for education.”
As far as how the money will be used, Brandt said: “We have not identified anything specifically yet for the money. However, we have begun the process of discussing the possibilities with our science and STEM teachers. We currently have a few classes that use STEM modules, and we will be looking to upgrade these modules as well as possibly add to the number available.”
At St. Bede Academy, Superintendent Ted Struck said the $50,000 donation will go directly toward construction of St. Bede’s new $6.5 million science building, which should be finished by May 1.
The building, on the Academy’s north side, will feature physics, biology and chemistry labs, along with adjacent classrooms, a collaborative classroom space, and a student commons space for casual study.
Struck said the donation was “exciting,” along with proposed classroom collaborations between Marquis Energy and St. Bede that could bring students up close and personal with topics used daily at the ethanol plant, such as renewable energy, physics and chemistry.
“The philanthropy and the generosity, in and of itself, is amazing,” Struck said.
Putnam County Schools Superintendent Carl Carlson said he was pleased about the company’s “tremendously generous” donation.
“The school district is extremely humbled by the generosity of the Marquis family and the Marquis company,” Carlson said.
Carlson noted the Marquis family has a lot of history being involved in education.
For Putnam County schools, the $50,000 donation will help to purchase additional materials, such as newer science textbooks, and also help to offset some cuts, Carlson said. Teachers will be meeting to discuss ways to maximize the positive impact of the donation across the district.
“Anytime they can get additional funds to enrich their curriculum, they’re definitely going to be excited about that,” Carlson said.
In addition, the Marquis Energy-WI LLC plant in Necedah, Wis., is also gifting three local high schools in that area with cash contributions to be used toward science, math and agricultural advancements.
Mark Marquis said the company remains committed to bettering the community through service and producing homegrown ethanol for cleaner air and more affordable fuel.
With a production capacity of one million gallons of fuel grade ethanol per day, Marquis Energy is the largest dry-mill biofuels production facility in the United States.