A look at the preparation behind the SchoolPower gala

Abigail Roedersheimer, News Editor

The SchoolPower gala is scheduled for Mar. 18 at the Waldorf Astoria, and volunteers are well underway with preparations for the event. 

“[Our goal is] to bring awareness to how much we’ve grown, especially within the last year, as an organization and raise money for future grants/programs.” said SchoolPower’s event coordinator Melissa Norelli.

Last year, the fundraiser grossed $292,000. 

The theme for this year’s gala is “Joy,” and it will run from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. The timeline for events includes a cocktail reception, dinner, silent auction, a live auction, dancing and an afterparty. Tickets can be purchased for $900 each.

One of the most significant portions of the fundraiser is the “Fund-A-Need” program, which is when guests raise their bidding cards. The program accounted for almost 50 percent of money raised at last year’s gala. 

Those who donate $600 or more can designate up to 20% of their donation to a sport, elective or academic program of their choice. 

The other form of donation is through the auctions. While there are dozens of items to bid on, some of the most exciting items in the silent auction include a golf bag with a hat signed by Tiger Woods, two tickets to Wild Rivers, a SwellTech skateboard, four club level seats to an Anaheim Ducks game and jewelry from Frederic H. Rubel. In the live auction, multiple trips, like getaways to Aspen and the Big Island, are available. Even if someone is not attending, they can still bid on some auction items on the SchoolPower website.

Venue decorations are designed each year to incorporate the various themes. This year, with the theme being joy, SchoolPower employee and local parent Ashley Brown has purposefully selected hot pink colors to produce a vibrant feeling.  

“We are focused on showcasing the collective Joy that SchoolPower brings to our students, staff and community, including through Ashley Brown’s gorgeous aesthetic visions,” said SchoolPower trustee and volunteer Shaheen Sheik-Sadhal. 

At each year’s gala, attendees enjoy a video capturing the results of programs and grants funded by SchoolPower. The video is filmed and edited by Andy Crisp, the Computer Multimedia teacher at Thurston Middle School. This year’s video production took about a month and a half to finish, with around ten-to-fifteen hours dedicated to editing. 

“My favorite part of producing this video was being able to shoot footage at all four school sites. Not many teachers have the opportunity to visit other sites, and I feel super fortunate to be able to witness the incredible array of activities, learning and joy happening at each of our amazing schools,” said Crisp.

SchoolPower has roughly 35 volunteers, mostly consisting of their staff, executive committee and board of trustees. The volunteers have duties from choosing menu items to making seating arrangements. 

“[The volunteer force] is small but mighty,” said SchoolPower’s Executive Director Sarah Durand. 

Durand puts countless hours of planning into the gala each year.

“[My favorite part is] community interaction, whether it’s chasing down MVPs or talking to businesses,” said Durand.

On Mar. 17 and the morning of the gala, the volunteers will begin preparing the venue.