Annual Gala Sets Historic Attendance, Fundraising Records
With a quintessential Southern California sunset streaming through the floor to ceiling windows of Air Force One Pavilion at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, over 800 OCS guests gathered as a community to celebrate the 17th annual Gala Dinner Auction on April 6, setting an historic attendance record for the event. The evening raised over 1.3 million, also another record.
This year’s event—returning for the second year to the Reagan Library in Simi Valley—was especially prestigious with the presence of George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States and founder of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, and his wife, First Lady Laura Bush (2001-2009), as the special guests.
The Bushes were greeted with enthusiastic applause and a standing ovation as they entered the main dinning room and took their seats. Sharing the presidential table were Oaks Christian School founders David Price and Dallas Price-Van Breda and their spouses, Helen Price and Bob Van Breda.
The evening’s festivities began with a silent auction on the mezzanine floor and guests were able to bid on beautiful jewelry, sports items and memorabilia, vacation experiences, and other fabulous items.
(CLICK HERE for a photo gallery of the evening by Cornerstone Photography and OCS Parent Brandy Lazar)
OC Voices, the school’s new a capella group directed by OCS Choral Director Edward Rouse, entertained with their renditions of “I Want You Back,” and “Ain’t No Sunshine.” They performed on stage, directly in front of the Bushes, and delivered a powerful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” while OCS alumni United States Marine CPL Aidan Kelly, (Class of 2014), and United States Marine LCPL Liam Kelly (Class of 2017) stood at attention. All three songs were arranged by Rob Dietz.
Head of School Rob Black officially kicked-off the evening with a special welcome for the Bushes and assembled guests. He took a few minutes to highlight some of the exciting new initiatives at Oaks Christian: the IDEA Lab, the residential boarding program, and the art and innovation, engineering and global leadership institutes.
Premiering at the event was the “Mark this Moment” video which follows the path of three students and tells the story of how Oaks Christian enabled them to achieve. OCS Board of Trustees member Shelene Bryan and gala auctioneer Jim Nye double-teamed asking guests to help support students by donating directly to financial aid.
Legendary performer and OCS parent Paul Anka was back this year with an even funnier version of Frank Sinatra’s classic “I Did it My Way,” re-tooled for an Oaks Christian audience. He crooned about high school principal Karen Coyle, the recent nationwide college admissions scandal, and student life at Oaks Christian.
The moment guests waited for arrived as the Bushes took the stage to be interviewed by Rob Riggle, OCS parent, actor and United States Marine Lieutenant (retired).
In a wide-ranging conversation, President Bush and Mrs. Bush shared recollections of life at the White House and the challenges of leadership. They also spoke about their current work and initiatives at the Bush Center.
Following the Bushes was the live auction—a rollercoaster of excitement as Nye kept the bidding moving along at a fast and furious pace. Cajoling, humoring and downright shaming, Nye got guests to open their wallets to bid on extraordinary items such as an Ariana Grande VIP Tour experience, a behind-the-scenes Grammy package, a Scotland golf extravaganza and an NBA all-star weekend, and more!
But the show stealer was “Barrett’ an eight-week old golden doodle puppy who stole the crowd’s hearts! At $11,000 he was the highest bid item of the evening and (going, going, gone!) went to the Anka family.
Chief Development Officer Eddie Moore concluded the event by thanking the many, many sponsors and donors who made the evening possible, and the advancement team for organizing and executing the event.