April 26, 2012

Making A World of Difference

Guests gather at the BigWig Shindig

A couple of hundred guests gathered at the Boulder Country Club last weekend for the BigWig Shindig, Friends’ School’s annual auction. The event was a huge success on many levels. 

It was a fabulous party that brought together many different segments of this wonderful community: elementary school parents, preschool parents, teachers, trustees, staff, alumni parents, teacher candidates, grandparents, generous sponsors and all of our friends and partners.  Guests were invited to dress as a big wig, or in a big wig, and the majority chose the latter. 

We saw our friends in shiny metallic wigs, giant foam, large afros, sexy silky blue wigs, huge pink hair, bald caps, curly redheads, mullets, the list is endless.  For a great selection of pictures from the auction, check out the slideshow.

The auction is an extremely important fundraiser for the school.  Our guests on Saturday bid high and bid often.  As a result, the school raised over $111,000 in a single evening.  We are very grateful to our auction-goers, our sponsors, everyone who donated items and services, and our numerous volunteers who gave so much of their precious time and energy to the event.

Each year at the auction, we ask you to raise your paddle to support a particular program or project at the school.  This year, we asked our auction goers to support the school’s tuition assistance program.

What attracted me to Friends' School more than any other single thing was the people – you and your children.  This is an extraordinary community. Children who have a strong sense of belonging to their school feel safe and connected. Being part of a positive environment supports children’s growth into healthy, contributing members of society and their adult communities. Our teachers strive to create an atmosphere of wholeness in our classrooms and in our school.

Who doesn’t deserve an education like that? Not everyone can afford to pay the full tuition at Friends’.  We want all kinds of kids at Friends’ School from all kinds of families.  We are very purposeful in having a tuition assistance program that directly benefits families who otherwise could not afford to send their children to receive this outstanding education.

For the current school year, approximately 11% of the school’s gross tuition (or $215,000) in financial assistance was awarded in tier discounts and financial aid. That’s sixty of our students, or one third of enrollment.  This is important stuff.  We could not have the kind of school that we have without this tuition assistance program.

Letting their hair down for a great cause
When my kids were entering Kindergarten, I knew that I wanted them to be in a caring, nurturing, safe environment.  I wanted them to be in an independent school like this one.  At the time, I was a teacher making less than $35,000 a year.  My wife was a full-time graduate student.  We had two kids, a mortgage, car payments, the usual stuff.  Private school tuition was a stretch for us. Yet, we understood the importance of an independent school education for our daughters and we wanted to make it work. We made sacrifices but it was also through the generosity of the greater school community, in particular the big-hearted families at the school who chose to pay a little more, that my kids were able to go to a school like this. 

And they’re thriving. 

They were both shy little girls whom I was afraid might have gotten lost in a bigger school.  Now they have confidence.  They’re thoughtful, they act, they speak in public, they think outside the box, they’re great team players, and I have utmost faith that they’re going to go on and do great things. I am so eternally grateful to that school and the generosity of others who made that happen for my family.

I am equally grateful for the enormous generosity of our families who, through the paddle raiser on Saturday, donated a record $29,000 to support other families, other parents who are working hard to make ends meet and want nothing more than a Friends' School education for their children. 

You have made the world of difference to someone. Thank you for being part of such an incredible community.

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