Together we make a profound difference

BEST PRACTICE: Public school support

HOW-TO: Partner with public schools

Find it on

Your April checklist

Trestleboard and more

Question of the month


Printable Version


BEST PRACTICE: Public school support

Masons have always championed the pursuit of knowledge, and along with it, equal access to education. From college scholarships to the fraternity’s partnership with Raising A Reader and fire safety training through FISE, California Masons make public schools a top priority statewide.

In San Gabriel Valley, Arcadia Lodge No. 278 developed a Public Schools Month event nearly half a century ago to support and celebrate its school district. And the community has rallied around it: These days, it’s a highlight of the community calendar.

Sloane Tay, Arcadia Lodge’s secretary and Public Schools Committee chair, explains.


Our lodge actively supports local public schools in several ways, from providing financial support for field trips and sponsoring uniforms, to opening up our building free of charge as a standardized testing site. But we’re best known for our Public Schools Month luncheon, held every April. This year’s luncheon is our 49th annual.

Event basics

  • The purpose: We celebrate the outstanding teachers and students who make our school district one of the best in the state.
  • The crowd: The luncheon is held in our lodge, and the entire school district, community leaders, lodge members, and families are invited to attend.
  • Honored guests: We recognize two to four outstanding teachers, selected by the school district. We present plaques to students who are National Merit Scholar finalists – typically, 30-40 students each year.
  • Expenses: The lodge sponsors the event and provides meals for honored students and teachers, as well as food service employees. Other attendees cover their own meals.

Event details

  • Keynote: We always feature a short speech. The lodge and school district alternate each year in providing a speaker. Past speakers have included the superintendent, mayor, and influential teachers.
  • Decor: We integrate an art showcase by middle and elementary school students: The Parent Teacher Association decorates the dining room with student artwork. During the luncheon, judges select winners and leave ribbons for the kids.
  • Music: Entertainment is provided by one of the local elementary school choirs.
  • Food: Lunch is catered through the school district food services department and served by a high school leadership club.

Event planning

  • Year round: I chair the lodge’s Public Schools Committee with three or four other members.
  • In January: We begin planning the luncheon. We also meet with the school district to get the names of student Merit Scholar finalists and distinguished faculty.
  • Local liaisons: We’ve built a strong relationship with our school district liaison, who does a great job publicizing the event by word of mouth. A few lodge members are past or current city council members, and they help spread the word to community leaders.
  • TIP: Start planning in January in order to mark the event on all city calendars, including the calendars of the mayor and police and fire chiefs.

The success

  • Unifying a district: We involve all the district schools, from elementary to high school.
  • Popular demand: The event is attended by 250-300 people, including parents, teachers, city employees, and lodge members. If you don't reserve your space in advance, chances are you'll be standing in the back.
  • Community leadership: The mayor, councilmen and women, city manager, and police and fire chiefs attend each year to show their support for public schools.

It's important to have a specific vision and plan for your lodge’s public school program. Here at Arcadia Lodge, we focus on honoring our exceptional teachers and Merit Scholar finalists. It’s one of our finest legacies.

For more information, contact Sloane Tay.

[Back to Top]



HOW-TO: Partner with public schools

Here are 25 ways for your lodge to support local schools – this Public Schools Month, and every other month of the year.


  • Offer to paint a playground, plant a garden, or help with time-consuming tasks, such as stuffing envelopes
  • Assemble a lodge team to tutor students or read to young children
  • Assist in a school computer lab or library
  • Provide lodge space for special student-parent meetings, such as ESL classes
  • Participate in a “Principal for a Day” program

Support school programs

  • Ask the school librarian to provide a list of desired books, and donate or raise money to purchase them
  • Donate money for a teacher's “wish list” of classroom supplies
  • At the beginning of the school year, give students backpacks filled with supplies
  • Distribute dictionaries
  • Supply U.S. Constitution booklets for classrooms (middle school and above)
  • Purchase advertising space in school yearbooks
  • Donate money for a school field trip to the state capitol
  • Donate money to buy instruments and supplies for the school’s music program
  • Fund an after-school program

Sponsor contests

  • Science fair
  • Writing contest
  • Spelling bee
  • Speech contest
  • U.S. Constitution tournament
  • Poster contest

Award excellence

  • Fund college scholarships
  • Reward “most improved” students at a lodge dinner for families
  • Give citizenship awards to students who exhibit good classroom behavior
  • Present U.S. Savings Bonds to student leaders
  • Work with principals or school district leaders to honor a Teacher of the Year

Before settling on any one task, meet with local principals to find out what their schools need most.

[Back to Top]



Find it on

Your lodge audit must be completed by the end of this month, and the Lodge Audit Guide on the Member Center is here to help. It breaks the audit procedure into specific, clear steps – and includes valuable tips and best practices.

Download the Guide here as a Word document or a PDF.

[Back to Top]



Your April checklist

Make sure you’re on track with lodge business and prepared for important deadlines. Here’s your April checklist:

Executive Committee

Senior Warden

  • Review all candidates’ progress towards advancement
  • Continue preparing 2016 program plan
  • Continue preparing 2016 budget
  • Continue preparing 2016 officer appointments
  • Continue preparing 2016 installation of officers


  • Continue to collect delinquent dues from members, which were due on January 1


  • If your lodge has employees, file quarterly federal payroll tax form 941 (unless the IRS has approved an annual filing of form 944, due in February)
  • If your lodge has employees, file quarterly state payroll tax form DE9/DE9C and deposit form DE88
  • Prepare IRS form 990 and FTB form 199, both due by May 15 (unless your lodge has previously agreed to have Grand Lodge prepare these forms)

Audit Committee

  • Audit lodge books, to be completed by end of month

Hall Association

  • Prepare form 200, due to Grand Lodge in May
  • Prepare insurance premium payment, due in May
  • Prepare IRS form 990 and FTB form 199, both due by May 15

Questions? Contact Member Services at or (415) 776-7000.

[Back to Top]



Trestleboard and more

Masonic Assistance offers a menu of services for members, wives, widows, and children. Make sure your fraternal family knows that they can turn to Masonic Assistance when they need support.

This special installment features a true tale of how these services have helped. This month, read how San Francisco Lodge No. 120 worked with Masonic Outreach Services to help a widow in distress.

Share the story with your lodge to raise awareness of these services and to show your Annual Fund contributions at work. To make your contribution, visit

This Month: Beyond Obligation: A Call for Help
Publish in your Trestleboard, email to your membership, or print out and post at the lodge.

[Back to Top]



Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge has its own strategic plan. Of those who responded:

45% - Yes
46% - No
9% - Don't know

The inspiration? Eighty-three percent of “yes” respondents say their lodge plan is based at least somewhat on the fraternity’s 2010-2015 strategic plan.

Here's your next question.





View past issues

Please email questions to

Contact Us

Grand Lodge of California
1111 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

p: (415) 776-7000