IPSF gala raises $720,000, while celebrating excellence in education
“Why is this crowd so young and good-looking,” a guest was overheard asking. “Because most have school-age kids and are IUSD parents,” was the reply. Which makes some sense, as the event, which netted more than $720,000, helps fund critical programs and classroom support for Irvine Unified School District.
After the opening reception, guests were led into the ballroom with a startlingly loud drumline battle between Irvine High School and Northwood High School student musicians.
IPSF President and CEO Neda Eaton welcomed the audience to the event, noting that the annual gala “is a shining example of how community support of education can effect real change for our young people. We are proud to facilitate public-private partnerships that provide innovative programs and opportunities that have the ability to inspire students to follow their dreams and make the world a better a place,” Eaton said.
“He’s a dear friend and generous supporter of IPSF,” Eaton said of the evening’s host, Dennis Kuhl, chairman of Angels Baseball, before introducing a humorous video starring him. It featured past gala hosts “training” Kuhl to be the host in a boot camp environment at Portola High School, and included appearances by sports personality Jim Rome, who also did the voiceover, Olympic Gold Medal-winning swimmer Jason Lezak, IUSD Superintendent Terry Walker, IPSF Boardmember Grace Lin and Advisory Boardmember Steve Churm, as well as Eaton herself.
Kuhl then entered the room to the theme of “Rocky,” wearing boxing gear that included gloves signed by Angels superstar Mike Trout. As dinner was served, the Grammy Award-winning Woodbridge High School choir entered the room and encircled the diners, offering a stirring rendition of “Lean on Me.” A live auction featuring six experiences saw generous bids, as did the “fund the need” interlude that followed it.
The Spirit of Excellence awards honoring accomplished IUSD high school alumni was entertaining, informative and moving, as awardees recognized their teachers, parents and the district as contributing to their success. The honorees were Steve Bass (Irvine High School), a multiple Emmy Award-winning production designer whose incredible set designs were shown during the presentation, for Excellence in the Arts; Eli Stokols (University High School), the White House reporter for The Wall Street Journal, for Excellence in Journalism; Cassie Parham (Irvine High School), IUSD assistant superintendent of education services, for Excellence in Leadership; and members of the band Island Apollo (Northwood High School) were named Rising Stars. The band performed at the end of the evening after being introduced by Dustin Kensrue of the band Thrice, which was honored at last year’s IPSF gala.
FivePoint was the presenting sponsor of the gala for the eighth consecutive year. Other corporate sponsors included The Resort at Pelican Hill, Microsemi, Greenberg Taurig, Pillsbury Law, Cox Communications, Kading Briggs LLP and Wells Fargo.
“The success of the 2017 Spirit of Excellence Gala is a testament to the unwavering support the Irvine community has for education,” Eaton said. “Our sponsors and gala committee showed tremendous leadership, which resulted in our most successful event yet. The funds raised will make an impact in the educational experience of over 34,000 students in our community.”