Kennedy Academy Planetarium Director receives $100,000 grant

South Bend based Farmers Insurance agent, LuAnn Shaffer, presented Lisa Artusi with a $100,000 grant.

Artusi and Shaffer hold check in front of Kennedy Academy students.

When walking into the school Tuesday morning, Artusi was completely unaware that she had won the grant from Farmers Insurance.

The funds will be used to make a variety of improvements to the existing planetarium such as upgrading seating, replacing flooring, and installing new light switches.

Students at Kennedy Academy cheer as Artusi accepts the grant.

"The chairs are squeaky and we want a full dome experience for students and our community," Artusi said. The new chairs will allow gazers to lean back and view the entire dome shaped screen.

The Kennedy Planetarium is one of only 400 planetariums in the United States. 

SOUTH BEND, Ind.—Kennedy Academy Planetarium Director, Lisa Artusi, received a $100,000 educational grant from The Farmers Insurance Thank America’s Teachers Dream Big Teacher Challenge.

Artusi’s proposal was one of five proposals that received the most online votes across the country.

“It’s been an amazing adventure, an amazing journey. And I know 100% of the community wanted this and they showed it by all of the votes, by all of the reaching out and social media, they were just there for us. I couldn’t have done it by myself,” Artusi said.

The grant, presented to Artusi by local Farmers Insurance Agent, LuAnn Shaffer, will be used to improve Kennedy Academy’s existing planetarium.

“We want to install a full dome experience for not only our students but our community so that they can lean back and enjoy everything from stars to oceans to artic circles and anything we can find for programming to make it an even better educational facility,” Artusi said.

The Kennedy Planetarium is one of only 400 planetariums in the country.

Not only does it serve Kennedy Academy, but the planetarium is also a field trip destination for other South Bend Community schools.

“This is a landmark in South Bend,” Artusi said.

Including this year’s Dream Big Teachers Challenge, Farmers Insurance will have invested over $4 million in educational, teacher-submitted projects.

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