The Westerville Education Challenge is playing host to a party with a purpose.

The Rock This Town '80s Party will take place from 7 p.m. to midnight Feb. 16 at the Medallion Club, 5470 Medallion Drive W. in Westerville.

Since 2009, Westerville Education Challenge has donated more than $70,000 to the Westerville City School District to support Challenge Day at all three Westerville high schools. It also has contributed to grants for educators and a partnership with Westerville middle schools.

Kristan Robertson, WEC president, said Challenge Day builds the empathy of the youth it seeks to engage and also that of the adults involved.

"Rock This Town '80s Party is a very fun and energetic evening of music, dancing and socializing that also raises money for the programs and grants that Westerville Education Challenge supports in our high schools and middle schools such as Challenge Day at all three Westerville high schools, PRIDE program at Heritage Middle School and other character building programs in the middle schools and teacher grants," she said.

Robertson said it's an opportunity to have a fun evening out while supporting a cause.

There's an open invitation to the community to join WEC and enjoy live music from the Reaganomics, she said.

A $50 donation will cover one ticket to the event, two drink tickets and heavy appetizers. Era-appropriate attire is optional, but the sponsors hope to see guests in turned-up-collar shirts and acid-washed jeans.

"We have come a long way in 10 years of providing programming but have so much more room to grow and we continue to seek and to appreciate the support and sponsorship from the Westerville community, organizations and businesses," Robertson said.

Westerville Education Challenge was established with the mission of encouraging creative and innovative ideas that enhance educational opportunities for a significant number of students in the school district.

Stephanie Martin, a Challenge Day coordinator, said the program wouldn't be possible without WEC support.

"It's an enrichment experience and we want to continue it for many, many years," she said. "We rely on donations and sponsorships to be able to cover the cost of the program."

Challenge Day begins as a typical school day in which 100 students are excused from all of their classes.

They participate in a series of activities designed to address issues such as bullying, stereotypes and violence.

As the day progresses, they get to know themselves and one another better, developing greater understanding and new friendships.

Students feel empowered to speak out and make a positive difference in their lives at home, at school and in the community.

"There are so many kids who can't pay (for it) themselves," Martin said. "We don't want anyone not be able to come because they can't afford it. The cost is about $35 per kid."

Westerville Education Challenge has held a fundraiser every year the program has been in existence, according to Martin.

"I try to raise as much as I can through kids paying their way," she said. "It never covers all of it. I know I can count on Westerville Education Challenge to be there for the kids."

For details and tickets, visit westervilleeducationchallenge.org.

Online ticket sales will end at midnight Tuesday, Feb. 13.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla