Top 10 Most Iconic Electric Guitars of All Time, Part 2

Friday May 18, 2012
Posted at 08:20

Most Famous Electric GuitarsIf you checked out part one of our list of the 10 most iconic electric guitars of all time, then you know how our dedicated music fans at Spark Energy feel about the music-changing instrument. Simply put, we love it and we couldn’t imagine how different music over the past 60 years would be without it. That’s why we decided to gather around a table, put on a pot of coffee and hammer out a list of what we think are the top electric guitars of all time.

Still, there was some disagreement about where the guitars on this list should rank. Make sure to take our poll at the bottom to vote on how you would have ranked these 10 guitars and let us know about any sweet six strings you think we missed.

6. Gibson Flying V

Apparently, 1958 was a good year for guitars. That’s when Jimi Hendrix rocked the Isle of Wight with the original Gibson Flying V, a unique “V”-shaped guitar that looks like an arrow shot from a bow. With an inspired look matched only by the uniqueness of its sound, there is, simply put, nothing else like it in the world of electric guitars.

Year introduced: 1958

Key players: Marc Bolan, Dave Davies, Billy Gibbons, Steve Jones, Kirk Hammett, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Perry, Keith Richards, Michael Schenker, Paul Stanley, Eddie Van Halen

7. Gibson ES-335

The distinctive double f-holes and plummy yet cutting tone of the Gibson ES-335 has made it a favorite electric guitar of blues players everywhere. Of course, BB King may have had something to do with that. His 335, “Lucille,” may be one of the most recognizable guitars in the world.

Year introduced: 1958

Key players: Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Larry Carlton, Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow, The Edge, Eric Johnson, BB King, Bobby Krieger, Alex Lifeson, Roy Orbison, Joe Perry, Eddie Van Halen, T-Bone Walker

8. B.C. Rich Mockingbird

The B.C. Rich Mockingbird is one axe that actually looks like an axe. Its sharp, angular lines, a signature feature of most B.C. Rich guitar designs, are both distinctive and polarizing; you either love it or you hate it. But regardless of how you feel about its looks, the Mockingbird has some serious shred pedigree. And it also has the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award from Guitar World, which ranked the Mockingbird as “the coolest guitar of all time,” ahead of rock luminaries like the Gibson Les Paul Standard and the Fender Stratocaster.

Year introduced: 1976

Key players: Craig Chaquico, Paul Crook, Lita Ford, Steve Hunter, Neil Gilrado, Kerry King, John Moyer, Dave Mustaine, Joe Perry, Slash, Dick Wagner

9. Gibson Explorer

Another iconic electric guitar that debuted in 1958 (what was it with that year?), the Gibson Explorer bears the dubious distinction of being somewhat of a flop. However, in the wildly-styled guitar’s defense — too wildly-styled for its day, perhaps — its initial production run is estimated at less than 50. But with its famous drooping headstock and aggressive, asymmetrical design, it roared into reissue in 1976 and would go on to gain cult status, thanks to a fuzzy version wielded by ZZ Top’s Bill Gibbons.

Year introduced: 1958–59 (reissued 1976)

Key players: Eric Clapton, Allen Collins, The Edge, Billy Gibbons, Dave Grohl, James Hatfield, Matthais Jabs, Gary Moore, Bill Spooner, Paul Stanley

10. Danelectro DC

The Danelectro DC holds the distinction of having possibly the most humble beginnings of any electric guitar on this list. Danelectro made its electric guitars for U.S. department store Sears, but the DC looked way cooler than its pedigree because its design, including chromed “lipstick” pickups, was borrowed from 1950s automakers.

Year introduced: 1959

Key players: Syd Barrett, Beck, Eric Clapton, Jerry Garcia, Mark Knopfler, Jimmy Page, Billy Squire

Sources

25 Most Iconic Guitars Ever,” Stuff, Sept. 16, 2010.

Wikipedia, “B.C. Rich Mockingbird.”

Wikipedia, “List of Danelectro Players.”

Wikipedia, “List of Gibson Players.”

Wikipedia, “Gibson Explorer.”


Electric Tesla X SUV Sets the New Standard for Green Urban Warriors

Wednesday April 25, 2012
Posted at 09:30

If you’re an enviro-friendly urban warrior who has been crossing your fingers for somebody to build an all-electric, all-wheel drive SUV, your wait is officially over.

In early February, Tesla Motors announced that it was taking preorders for its brand new Model X electric SUV, which comes in rear-wheel and all-wheel drive versions, costing from $60,000 to more than $100,000. Just days later, the company had already taken orders for $40 million worth of the plug-in SUV. To get their hands on one, folks had to put down deposits of $5,000 for the base model and $40,000 for the top-of-the-line Signature model.

Speed is an important consideration for Tesla, which has built its brand on the idea that fast can also be green. Tesla claims top end versions of the Model X will go from zero to 60 in 4.4 seconds, which is the sort of acceleration you’d normally associate more with a Porsche than an SUV.

But the car’s cool factor, at least visually, may be the “falcon wing” back door design, which allows the doors to go almost straight up and channels the way-before-its-time DeLorean. With these visually striking and functional doors, passengers and cargo can easily get in and out in tight spaces, such as parking lots.

As an extra feature, Model X buyers will be able to choose from a variety of battery pack sizes to customize their driving range.

In addition to the Model X, Tesla makes the Model S, an all-electric sport sedan, and the Roadster, the all-electric sports coupe that launched the brand. Tesla is also building battery packs and motors for an electric version of the Toyota RAV4, battery packs for an electric version of Daimler’s Smart Fortwo and a full powertrain for an all-electric Mercedes-Benz.

Sources

Tesla Racks Up $40M Worth of Model X Orders,” CNN Money, Feb. 15, 2012.

1895: The Year the Power Tool Was Born

Tuesday April 24, 2012
Posted at 09:07

Humankind has used tools for quite some time, but throughout most of our history our ability to perform tasks was limited by our strength and endurance. However, a single invention just 117 years ago helped break the shackles of human limitation and unleashed an era of productivity that continues to this day.

In 1895, 16 years after Thomas Edison invented the incandescent electric lamp, the German engineering company C&E Fein combined the power of an electric motor with a manual drill to develop the world’s very first power tool.

The heavy drill, which weighed 16.5 pounds, was powered by a large but relatively weak DC electric motor that didn’t turn very fast. To use the drill, the operator had to use both hands, grab it by two handles opposite the motor and lean against a chest plate at the back of the drill to help press it into the work surface. The world’s first power tool may seem unwieldy and unproductive by modern standards, but it was another 20 years before someone improved upon the design.

In 1910, a tool and die worker by the name of Duncan Black sold his car for $600 and used the money to start a small machine shop in Baltimore, Maryland with his friend Alonzo Decker. In 1914, the two arrived at the same idea to improve the C&E Fein power drill by adapting the design of the Colt .45 automatic pistol. By 1916, Black & Decker had begun making their famous pistol-grip, trigger-switch electric drill, from which all modern handheld electric drills are descended.

The Black & Decker drill was not only lighter, but it used a more powerful motor and could be easily operated by one person, two critical features missing from C&E Fein’s original electric drill. After that, the power tool industry was off and running and Black & Decker was soon followed by new companies with new kinds of power tools. A new era of human productivity was born.

Sources

History, “The World’s First Power Tools.”

Win Two Club-Level Tickets to the Rockets Game

Monday April 23, 2012
Posted at 07:59

The Houston Rockets’ season is winding down. If you want to catch a game, you had better act fast.  Spark Energy is giving away two club-level seats for the April 26 game against the New Orleans Hornets. To enter our drawing, go to this page on Facebook and submit your information by 5:00 p.m. on April 23.  We’ll notify the winners on April 24. Good luck!

Top 10 Most Iconic Electric Guitars of All Time, Part 1

Tuesday April 10, 2012
Posted at 08:45

Most famous guitars in history

Electric guitars have been a staple of the music world for over 60 years. To many people, including a group of dedicated music fans at Spark Energy, the electric guitar is the defining instrument in contemporary music ensembles. So we decided to sit down and rate what we think are the 10 most iconic electric guitars of all time. The discussion was opinionated, to say the least, and the final list of 10 guitars was easier to agree upon than their individual rankings.

So, without further ado, here’s part one of our list of the 10 most iconic electric guitars of all time. Make sure to check out part two for the rest of the best, to vote on how you would have ranked these 10 guitars and to set us straight about any electric guitars you would have put on the list instead.

1. Fender Stratocaster

Outside of the Gibson Les Paul Standard, no electric guitar says rock-and-roll like the dual-horned Fender Stratocaster. It could be the most easily-recognized and widely-played electric guitar in the world, by pros and amateurs alike. Exactly how iconic is this axe? Well, Jimi Hendrix set fire to it, Eric Clapton bought six at once, Stevie Ray Vaughn singlehandedly resurrected blues with it, and Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour owns serial number #0001.

Year introduced: 1954

Key players: Randy Bachman, Jeff Beck, Adrian Belew, Eric Clapton, The Edge, John Frusciante, David Gilmour, Buddy Guy, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly, Eric Johnson, Mark Knopfler, John Lennon, Alex Lifeson, John Mayer, Pete Townshend, Robin Trower, Ritchie Valens, Stevie Ray Vaughan

2. Gibson Les Paul Standard

One of two of the most recognized electric guitars in the world along with Fender’s Stratocaster, the Gibson Les Paul Standard has been THE electric guitar for generations of rock-and-rollers. There’s nothing quite like the universal appeal of the Standard’s beautiful, simple design and smooth lines. After all, it’s not called the Standard for nothing.

Year introduced: 1958

Key players: Duane Allman, Billie Joe Armstrong, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Ace Frehley, Billy Gibbons, Steve Jones, Mark Knopfler, Bob Marley, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, Randy Rhoads, Slash, Zakk Wylde

3. Gibson SG Standard

The best-selling Gibson guitar of all time, the SG (officially renamed the SG Standard in 1963) was originally intended as a redesign of the Les Paul Standard. When the SG hit in 1961, it sold more than three times the number of Les Paul Standards sold in the guitar’s entire three-year run from 1958–60. Maybe that’s because the SG looks as hard as it rocks.

Year introduced: 1961

Key players: Eric Clapton, Elliot Easton, Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix, Tony Iommi, Robby Krieger, Pete Townshend, Thom Yorke, Angus Young, Frank Zappa

4. Fender Telecaster

Originally introduced as the Broadcaster, the Telecaster, or Tele, hasn’t evolved much over the years, and with good reason. After all, when you’re the revolutionary model that finally put solid-body electric guitars on the map and started the rock-and-roll lead guitar phenomenon, what exactly do you need to improve on? The original’s simple design and fluid lines have been retained throughout the Tele’s production, which has gone uninterrupted since its debut over 60 years ago.

Year introduced: 1950

Key Players: Syd Barrett, Jeff Beck, Frank Black, Jeff Buckley, Bob Dylan, David Gilmour, Jonny Greenwood, Merle Haggard, Chrissie Hynde, George Harrison, PJ Harvey, Waylon Jennings, Alex Lifeson, Mike Oldfield, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Robbie Robertson, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend, Muddy Waters

5. Rickenbacker 300 Series

The Rickenbacker 300 Series is instantly recognizable by its single, straight-cut modern f-hole and oversized headstock. The “Ricky” was wildly popular during the 1960s and served as the backbone of pop music during the decade, most notably as the main axes of The Beatles. It was also among the first electric guitar models to get a 12-string edition, called the 360/12.

Year introduced: 1958

Key players: Peter Banks, Peter Buck, The Edge, Noel Gallagher, George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, Tom Petty, Pete Townshend, Hilton Valentine, Thom Yorke

Sources

25 Most Iconic Guitars Ever,” Stuff, Sept. 16, 2010.

Gibson, “15 Iconic Les Paul Players.”

Gibson, “15 Iconic SG Players.”

Gibson, “The Best-Selling Gibson of All Time: The SG Standard.”

Wikipedia, “Fender Telecaster.”

Wikipedia, “List of Gibson Players.”

Wikipedia, “List of Rickenbacker Players.”

Wikipedia, “List of Stratocaster Players.”

Wikipedia, “List of Telecaster Players.”

Wikipedia, “Rickenbacker 330.”

A Dream Come True: The Absolute Ultimate Home Theater Setup

Monday April 9, 2012
Posted at 11:00

Ultimate home theater system

We love movies. But we hate going to movie theaters, with all the talking and texting and sticky floors. Like many other movie lovers, our 21st century sanctuary is the modern home theater, with its moderately-priced flat-panel TVs, surround-sound receivers and satellite speakers. For many film snobs, our budgets play a huge role in what we’re able to piece together. And for the most part, we’re able to live with the results.

But what if money wasn’t an issue? What if you could build the home theater of your dreams? This, then, just might be the result: the most mind-blowing high-end home theater system that money can buy.

Out of the (Gilded) Gate: This is Stupid Expensive!

Yes, the ultimate high-end home theater system is undeniably and ridiculously expensive, almost embarrassingly so. You’ll need to make room for several zeros after the number you scribble in your checkbook, but it’s a necessary expense for the equipment, consultants, furniture and remodeling that you’re going to need to pay for to achieve this kind of awe-inspiring system.

The TV

Front projector or flat-screen HDTV? Well, that depends on how much space you have. If you have the room and don’t need to tear down a wall in your spacious, beautifully-designed home, you can get the Runco VideoExtreme VX-33 three-DLP-chip front-projection system ($49,995). The VX-33 can give you a whole lot more 1080p visual real estate than even the largest flat-panel HDTVs. The list of features is hard to wrap your mind around. All you need is a screen to project it on.

If, however, you don’t have the space for your own personal theater, a big-screen flat-panel HDTV is still the way to go. Runco’s PlasmaWall XP-103DHD (about $45,000) is a 103-inch monster of a 1080p HDTV that is, according to the company, the world’s largest plasma display. You want a plasma technology for your flat-screen, not LCD. That way you can get a truer black and avoid annoying artifacts that pop up in action scenes caused by the refresh rate of pixels in LCD panels.

The Blu-Ray Player

Blu-ray is dead, you say? Not so fast — especially if you want the very best movie experience possible. If you’ve ever seen the Blu-ray version of Planet Earth then you know what we mean. Image and audio quality actually vary quite a bit among high-end Blu-ray players and you may not need to spend $16,900 for Goldmund’s Eidos 20 BD Blu-ray player, even if does come with something called “AC-Curator” for Swiss-watch precision audio and visual stability. But you will. Because this is your dream system.

The Preamp/Amplifier Combo

While most of us in the real world get decent audio with a simple amplifier, which is also called a receiver, in the dream world, you’re going to want some extra muscle. That’s where the preamp comes in. Also called the processor, the preamp receives and processes audio signals before sending them to the amplifier (and video signals before sending them to a projector or HDTV). The two-stage process is normally handled by an amplifier. But you’re going to want to separate these processes because amplifiers work best when they’re cool and not overheated by doing double-duty to create the type of earth-shattering symphonic sound you’re going to be producing.

Audiophiles swear by Anthem’s AVM 50v preamp ($5,000) and its MCA 50 amplifier ($2,000), which combined provide eight HDMI inputs and 225 continuous watts per channel for all 7.1 channels.

The Speakers

Like the tires on a half-million dollar Lamborghini, your speakers are the only part of your dream home theater audio system that metaphorically touch the road. So you need them to be great. We’re talking $30,000 great from companies such as Escalante Design or Wilson Audio. But worry not, because what you’ll get are a set of seven satellite speakers — one center, two sides and four surround speakers — and a powered subwoofer that provide such high dynamic range that they’ll sound just as good on “1” as they will on “10,” just not as loud. The effect, according to Alex Brinkman of Music Lover, is “visceral.”

A Word on Room Acoustics

No dream home theater system would be complete without hiring a professional consultant to analyze and improve the acoustic performance of the actual room where you plan to set up all this top-of-the-line equipment. Acoustic tiles, sound diffusers and even rugs can be used to shape the sound of a room. A good consultant will even take into account the aesthetic qualities of the room, much like an interior designer, to make sure it helps produce the best sound possible. What’s an extra four to ten grand at this point?

So there you have it. The greatest, most mind-blowing collection of audio and video components ever gathered into one room. The total bill for the home theater system of your dreams? About $160,000. Sound a little over the top? That’s why they call it a dream system.

Sources

The Ultimate Home Theater,” PCWorld, May 27, 2010.

World’s Most Expensive Blu-ray Player 2011,” Exploredia, May 6, 2011.

Anthem, “AVM 50v.”

Anthem, “MCA 50.”

Runco, “PlasmaWall XP-103DHD.”

Runco, “VideoXtreme VX-33 Projector.”


Spark Energy Supports St. Baldricks

Friday March 16, 2012
Posted at 09:04

In an effort to Empower What Matters, Spark Energy has renewed its partnership and support of the Fox Chicago Schools Challenge and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. For those that may not be familiar with St. Baldrick’s, the Foundation is known for rallying volunteers to raise money by pledging to shave their heads in solidarity with children fighting cancer and has awarded millions in grants for childhood cancer research.

Spark Energy kicked off this year’s partnership with a $5,000 donation to St. Baldrick’s and a pledge to raise additional funds through a month-long giving campaign in the Chicago market. Through the campaign, we have had the privilege of meeting some of the amazing volunteers and supporters of the St. Baldrick’s organization, including Heather Kash.

Heather Kash is the Sr. Director of Corporate Relations for St. Baldrick’s and we are so inspired by her dedication to empowering what matters, we wanted you to meet her too.

A conversation with Heather Kash, Sr. Director of Corporate Relations, St. Baldrick's:

How long have you supported St. Baldrick's?
I first became involved as a St. Baldrick’s volunteer in 2002 where I ran the Downtown Chicago event. After that, my involvement grew over the years where I was managing two full-time jobs. So, in 2007 I had to make a choice between the two, and St. Baldrick’s was the better option for me!

What inspired you to support and/or work for the organization?
Like so many of our volunteers, I got involved because a coworker was shaving his head and he asked me to help with the event. Our second year, we had such tremendous support that when a Bloomingdale firefighter, Chris Wilson, called to say he was bringing 30 firemen to Chicago for my event, I was afraid of having too many shavees and worked with him to set up the 2nd Chicago area event – this one in the Western suburbs.

From there, we kept “spinning off” events and people kept coming to me for help. In 2011 in IL, we had more than 200 events, almost 9,000 shavees, and raised almost $4MM. To think that I was afraid of having 50 shavees!

Is there one story or one child that keeps you going?
There are so many kids that drive us to do what we do, but here are a few. There is a young man named Chris, who I first met when he was 10 and newly diagnosed. He never fully responded to treatment, but was always at our events, shaving heads, and flashing his 1,000 watt, “get me out of trouble” smile. We lost Chris last November, but he will always be the face of St Baldrick’s for me. Two of Chris’ friends (who he met during treatment), Josh & Alicia, are survivors. Josh is a sophomore in HS and now taller than me (even in my heels!), and lettered in golf last year! Alicia celebrated her 20th birthday with us last September at our halfway to St. Baldrick’s event, and her uncle is a good friend who had shaved for St Baldrick’s for many years before she was diagnosed.

Then there is Sara, another survivor, who was one of our Ambassador kids for the Foundation in 2010 – just a few years younger than my youngest daughter, her story hit home, particularly when I hear her mom tell stories of her and her sisters, which sound so much like the antics of my kids! Josh, Alicia and Sara will all be at our event this year, and will get to have a hand in shaving my head! Chris will be there in spirit, and deeply missed.

How can people get involved with St. Baldrick's?
Our primary fundraising vehicle will always be our signature headshaving events, but people raise money for us in many ways. We’ve had motorcycle runs, 5Ks, golf outings and other events. You can visit www.stbaldricks.org to get involved in a local event, organize your own event, or contact the Foundation with your idea!

What does it mean to St. Baldrick's to have Spark Energy's support for the second year in a row?
We are fortunate to have so many corporate partners, helping to tell our story, engage their employees and customers and support the mission to Conquer Kids’ Cancer. Like so many companies, Spark Energy’s support goes beyond a donation and it’s wonderful to see how the cause has become a part of your corporate culture, tradition and a part of the lives of your employees.

Do you have anything else you would like to add?
THANK YOU!

It All Started with a Turtle: Revitalizing American Business

Monday February 20, 2012
Posted at 08:15

NOTE: In recognition of National Entrepreneurship Week, Spark Energy brings you the following submission from Michael Holthouse - American entrepreneur and founder of one of our key community partners, Prepared 4 Life. We are proud to support Lemonade Day 2012 in Houston and Chicago, and help "spark" dreams within thousands of participating youth.

Who knew that what started as an innocent question from a child asking for a pet turtle would turn into a life changing opportunity for hundreds of thousands of children across the country.

Four years ago when my daughter pulled me out of bed early one Sunday morning to do a lemonade stand, I had no idea what an amazing day was about to unfold. A few cups of lemonade, lots of answered questions and some real world experience, and my daughter had earned enough money to buy her now famous turtle. It was a simple lesson in entrepreneurship that had been passed on to me by my father. Instead of just giving her what she wanted, she learned how to earn it for herself. She did. She won, and I won – not the turtle, but a set of life lessons that have touched both of us. In many ways, she experienced what our great country is all about – daring to dream, making a plan, working the plan and having the guts to go out and be successful. Fulfilling the American Dream.

Girl in lemonade stand

That one day sitting along Memorial Drive with her inspired what is now known as Lemonade Day. It is a fun and experiential learning process that culminates in a single day where literally tens of thousands of lemonade stands all over a community demonstrate what business is all about. It’s where an entire community shows its support for youth through the simple act of buying a glass of lemonade. Children from every walk of life and geographic location learn what it takes to start a business – to fulfill their own dream. Caring adults and youth learn together using a free backpack filled with materials on how to start their very own business – a lemonade stand. Lemonade Day gives them their first taste as entrepreneurs. It changes the way they see the world forever.

There is the story about the little girl with learning challenges whose dream was to be able to buy something new for her fifth grade graduation. It would be the first new thing she ever had in her life. While afraid she would not succeed, she was encouraged by a school counselor to take a chance ... and she did. Today, she is not only the proud owner of a new pink dress that she bought with her own money, but a little girl whose academic progress has dramatically changed. She has now tasted success for the first time in her life, and she knows how it works. Her future story has changed forever – she is only one of thousands.

Her story is replicated in stand after stand, each of the youth with their own unique experience. In America everyone has the opportunity to become whatever they choose and are willing to work for. Lemonade Day is the spark that ignites a new passion.

Kids in lemonade stand

Lemonade Day is a chance for parents, mentors, teachers and the entire community to work with youth and help them see a different tomorrow. They help children learn how to approach their business and are given the tools they need to succeed. They also learn how to manage their financial success by spending a little, saving a little, and sharing a little of the money they earn.

Last year, in Houston alone, 54,000 kids registered, and collectively they sold over six million glasses of lemonade. From the proceeds of those stands, children donated a portion to the charities of their choice – that is after repaying their investors, saving some for their future and spending some on themselves. This year, in 40+ cities across America, more than 250,000 youth will participate and learn what business is all about. I can’t wait to see their contribution to society - not only on Lemonade Day, but in their future.

The lemonade stand is an American icon; it is quite often children’s first business. In this challenging time in America we hope to revitalize entrepreneurship using this time honored tradition. It is our goal is to help spread Lemonade Day to hundreds of communities and, on a single day in May of 2013, do one million lemonade stands! Can you imagine what that many new entrepreneurs will mean for our country? Will you help us make this dream come true?

Lemonade stands represent the best of our country’s proud past and bright future. They represent a vehicle to take children to places many only dream about going. Children today need to know they can do it – they need to know they have control – they need to know that they can be successful – they need to know that the hope for the future is in their hands – and stands.

On Lemonade Day, we salute entrepreneurs all across America who had a dream and pursued it. It is America and it represents the hope for our future.

And, to think, it all started with a turtle.

Spark Energy Empowers Schools

Friday January 6, 2012
Posted at 11:05

Banging on desks to keep time might not sound like an ideal way to teach music class, but for some time, that’s all that music teacher Cherrelle Blevins had to work with at Bronzeville Lighthouse Elementary Charter School in Chicago.

Of course, that’s before Spark Energy saw her request for musical instruments on iloveschools.com, a nonprofit organization that connects teachers in need of supplies with generous donors that step in where school budgets fall short.

Spark Energy donated more than 300 musical instruments to Bronzeville’s music program.



Spark Energy supports Chicago schools

"It is all very new and exciting," Blevins said. "It is going to mean that my students have more opportunities to express themselves, to learn new instruments, new songs, and just to engage in learning."

The students were excited, too.

"These instruments mean a lot to me," said student Kayla Johnson. "They mean that I can have more experience in music."

"Music helps me feel happy and to be able to express myself," said student Tyler Tolbert.

But Bronzeville Elementary wasn’t the only school to benefit from Spark Energy’s commitment to children’s education.

Athletic teacher Garrett Ryan got a big surprise when Spark Energy showed up at Woodland Elementary School with a gift of hula hoops, footballs, dodgeballs, cones and other gym equipment.



Spark Energy donation to Chicago charter school

The gift was especially appreciated by Ryan, who is dealing with growing enrollments and shrinking budgets.

“It can be expensive,” said Ryan, who, like many teachers, has had to spend some of his own money to make sure his students are properly supplied, “This has made my weekend.”

Spark Energy also went beyond individual schools, donating 1,000 backpacks and other key school supplies to Stuff the Bus, a United Way program that helps make sure underprivileged children have the school supplies they need.

Sources

"Energy Company Gives Joliet School New Athletic Equipment" - Joliet Herald-News, September 25, 2011.

"Company Surprises PE Teacher with Equipment" - Joliet Public Schools press release, September 26, 2011.

"Donation is Music to the Ears of Chicago Teacher" - WLS, September 13, 2011.

Spark Energy Supports Chicago Schools

Monday November 7, 2011
Posted at 15:54

Spark Energy supports the communities where we do business.  We recently donated some needed musical instruments to a Chicago charter school.  We had so much fun that we decided to do it again.  So we visited Woodland Elementary School in Joliet, a Chicago suburb, to donate exercise equipment that had been requested on www.iloveschools.com.    



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