Focusing on “The Future of Education,” the Neosho R-5 Charitable Foundation will host the annual Excellence in Education Banquet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Neosho High School cafeteria.

Cory Daspit, foundation board member, said this year’s theme is “Neosho R-5 Schools: Our Future,” which will be expounded upon by the keynote speaker, Dr. Kent Medlin, superintendent, Willard R-2 school District.

“[He] will be discussing the future of education and what education will be looking like moving forward,” Daspit said.

Daspit said the foundation will also honor a distinguished alumnus and educator.

“Our Distinguished Alumnus of the Year is Fred Clark,” he said. “We’re looking at honoring an alumni of Neosho that has done great things for the community: they’re very active in the community, as well as being a terrific representative of being a good, successful Neosho graduate, and Fred fits all those, he’s given back tremendously to the community as well as to the schools.”

Ken Barnes will be honored as the distinguished educator. Daspit said Barnes is a former administrator and principal in the R-5 district.

“Mr. Barnes is very well respected among those that he worked with and worked for,” he said, “as far as being a good administrator and a good educator, and was very committed to the students he had.”

Daspit said proceeds realized from the annual Excellence in Education banquet are used by the R-5 Charitable Foundation for scholarships, supplies, and needed technology.

“It helps to pick up needs that are not in the budget,” he said.

Some of the larger projects undertaken by the foundation are a capital campaign for the Smart Boards that are in the schools, and Daspit said they have funded other technology improvements, educational field trips, annually fund $10,000 to teachers in mini-grants, and raised $180,000 to purchase and donate the land for a new elementary school to donate to the Neosho R-5 School District.

Tickets for the banquet are $40 each and tables are $320, with a premium table costing $500. For information or to purchase tickets, contact Tonya Patterson at the superintendent’s office, 451-8600.