Maybe it was the sparkling golden garlands that set the festive mood. Maybe it was the champagne bar, pouring the same vintage served at the Elysée Palace. Or maybe it was the golden sparkle of guests’ elegant evening wear. Whatever the reason, from the beginning, it felt like an extraordinary evening was in store.
This year’s 35th Anniversary Gala and Auction – Champagne! – was an unprecedented night that raised the most funds for ISTP in the history of this event. I am truly in awe of our community’s incredible outpouring of goodwill and generosity.
Gala 2015 was distinct from previous Galas in that all funds raised would go towards completing the Expansion for Innovation Capital Campaign. The Capital Campaign holds a special significance for me and the ISTP community because the changes it has brought and will continue to bring to Cohn Campus make a palpable, direct impact on the everyday lives of our students.
This year’s Fund-A-Need was the most special moment of the evening. The goal of the Fund-A-Need was to “Finish Strong” and close out the Capital Campaign, ensuring that our students would soon play on a brand new playground. Play is one of the most important and memorable parts of any child’s life, and the cause proved to be near and dear to our community’s heart.
It was a moving moment for me as I thought back on the progress our school has made.10 years ago, at my second Gala, we were celebrating the 25th anniversary of the school. At the end of the Fund-a-Need, the Cohn family came up to the auctioneer and offered $5,000 matching if we raised another additional $5,000. 50 families pledged $100, and it worked.
This year, 10 years later, we raised $100,000 matching in a matter of minutes. Three families pledged at an unprecedented $10,000 level. Funds began to pour in at the $1,000 level, as the number of bids around the room became too many to count!
We are witnessing tremendous progress in a decade. For a school that used to raise $50,000 to $75,000 at a Gala, last night we raised more than $300,000! The ISTP community deserves a huge congratulations. It feels especially good to know that these funds will so directly improve our students’ experience at school.
We have a lot to be grateful for. Board Chair Sophie Bromberg expressed her thoughts: “It’s so exciting to see the energy in the room, to see how this event has evolved over the years, and to see everyone get involved. I am so proud of this community. I am so proud of what we have achieved with the Capital Campaign. It’s really, really exciting.”
Capital Campaign Chair Gerald Hwasta shared the same combination of excitement and gratitude at the successful end of the campaign. “I am happy that all the work of the past 3 years has been a success. I’m grateful for all the people at the school who have put their time and energy into organizing and motivating people to do this, and for everyone who donated, no matter how big or small. And we did it! I’m psyched we did it!”
Head of School Philippe Dietz summed up the night: “A fantastic evening, lots of champagne, lots of wine, lots of bidding.”
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the extraordinary leadership of our two Gala Co-Chairs, Cindy Foo-Irissou and Wendy Wright. They both had a great vision and their simplicity in implementing it was really a plus for me. Thank you both for being such great partners.
Congratulations ISTP community! We have rallied behind our students in an extraordinary way, and through your efforts, ISTP continues to grow and change to give our students the best education possible. After all, that is what it is all about!