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Steve Santilli, William Davies Middle School principal and president of the Hamilton Township Education Foundation's first annual Fall Festival, worked after school hours on the upcoming fall fest in his office. Photo by Dave Griffin

The first Hamilton Township Education Foundation, which went defunct about 12 years ago, did a lot of good for the district while active. In addition to generating the funds for important projects, it united staff, students and parents in a common goal.

A second Hamilton Township Education Foundation, which started with the 2010-11 school year, is looking to bring that partnership back to its heyday. On Oct. 27, the foundation will hold its largest event yet, the first Fall Carnival at William Davies Middle School.

Stephen Santilli, Davies principal and education foundation president, said the program will help reinforce the bonds between families and the district.

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"The idea of this particular event is to really bridge that gap between the community and the school, and we wanted to have something not just for the kids but for the community at large," Santilli said.

The carnival will offer activities including games of chance, a bouncy house, a hayride and a pumpkin patch. Wristbands, which cost $20, allow visitors unlimited access to activities. Tickets, which can be used for individual activities, will be available for 50 cents each. Refreshments are extra, and will cost $1 to $2.

Activities and booths will be staffed by volunteers from the Education Foundation and by Davies seventh- and eighth-graders. The foundation is also seeking craft vendors, and is offering tables for $15.

In its first two years, Santilli said, the Education Foundation sought to establish itself, building its ranks with volunteers and registering for nonprofit status. During this time, it held a series of small, monthly events like skate parties and movie nights. The Fall Carnival is its most ambitious event yet.

Despite the foundation's growth, member and carnival coordinator Kris Ellison said its continued success depends on increased involvement of members of the school community.

"Not a lot of people know what the Education Foundation is at this point," Ellison said. "We're trying to get the word out and we're trying to have more of the community come out and volunteer and help out with this, because the Education Foundation is about the schools and the community joining together."

The foundation will continue to offer monthly events throughout the school year, and has tentative plans to hold a second large fundraiser at the end of the school year in celebration of the Davies School's 25 years in operation.

It also hopes to make the Fall Carnival an annual, flagship event and a highlight of the Mays Landing calendar, something that will hinge on the volume of support generated with this first event and beyond.

"We have the hopes and anticipation of being able to add things, whether we bring in a petting zoo or pony rides, those are the things we want to get to, but for this year, we figure we'll see how it goes," Santilli said. "You've got to crawl before you walk."

Contact Braden Campbell:


If you go


The Hamilton Township Education Foundation's Fall Carnival


Oct. 27, rain date Oct. 28


William Davies Middle School, 1876 Dr. Dennis Foreman Dr., Mays Landing

How much:

$20 for a wristband, 50 cents per ticket

More info:

For event listings or more information, visit the Education Foundation tab on To become a vendor at the fall carnival or become a volunteer, email Kris Ellison at

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