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Willa Ford

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Alumni of East Bay High School in Riverview, Florida are raising money to fund a scholarship in honor of retired drama teacher Lynnette Lota after being inspired to help their school's arts program by the hit Fox television show GLEE.

Actress and singer Willa Ford, known to most from ABC's DANCING WITH THE STARS and her hit song I WANNA BE BAD, is backing the campaign to raise funds for the Lynnette Morrill Lota Arts Scholarship, an endowment that awards a $1,000 scholarship each year to a performing arts student from East Bay High School, or neighboring Riverview High School where Lota has also taught.

"Much like Mr. Schuester, Mrs. Lota was a teacher that truly inspired her students," says Ford. "Although the arts are an important part of the education at East Bay, Mrs. Lota had to fight for the program and make sure the show always went on in the face of obstacles. A large portion of her former students stay in touch with her on Facebook and she is still loved for her encouraging words even by alumni that graduated decades ago. She definitely inspired me and I would not be where I am without her. I am confident that we can raise the funds needed to establish this scholarship in her name."

"Mrs. Lota was a teacher that would defend the right of the drama department to present important plays and musicals even if they were considered controversial," says former student Jason Ferguson who is now a theatre producer in London and was formerly Sean 'Diddy' Combs' personal assistant at Bad Boy Entertainment.

The scholarship is being managed by the Hillsborough Education Foundation. The students must raise $20,000 to establish an endowed scholarship and are asking the public for their support. Donations can be made via the Hillsborough Education Foundation website at www.educationfoundation.com. Donors are asked to specify that their donation go specifically to the Lynnette Morrill Lota Arts Scholarship.

For more information, please contact Jason Ferguson at jason@fergusonlive.com.

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