By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
The Ancona School raised more than $200,000 at its 50th Anniversary Gala earlier this month. The funding will be used to provide scholarships and update technology and playground equipment at the school.
The event, which was held at the Chicago Marriott on May 4, had an unprecedented number of attendees from previous years and several interactive fundraising activities. In addition to traditional ad book donations, participants were able to bid on the silent auction throughout the evening by phone and instead of a traditional raffle, participants were encouraged to buy a wristband that allowed them to participate in a heads or tails game sponsored by the Casino Law Group where the last one standing — who happened to be Ancona 2009 graduate Andrew Williams — received $1,000.
“The Casino Law Group donated the $1,000 prize so that the school could keep the money raised from selling the wrist bands,” said Cynthia Aronovitz, gala co-chair and parent of two Ancona students. “We were so glad that the winner was someone who was getting ready to go to college.”
Bonnie L. Wishne, Head of Ancona, 4770 S. Dorchester Ave., said events like the gala, which the committee decided to move from every five years to annually, could not be possible without the support of friends and volunteers.
“The dedication of the committee and gala Co-Chairs Cynthia Aronovitz and Lucila Espedido ensured a successful auction and gala,” Wishne said.
Aronovitz, who has two children that attend Ancona, said more than 50 volunteers have been working since last year’s gala to find a location, get ads, collect auction items and other tasks to prepare for this year’s 50th anniversary gala.
“This was a great team. We raised lots of money that will help lots of children whose parents can’t afford to send their children to Ancona,”Aronovitz said. “This [gala] was real special so we wanted it to be a very light, fun and happy celebration.”
She said in addition to making sure that enough money is raised for scholarships, it’s fun to have a party to get dressed up for.
“Every morning we see moms in their pjs and dads looking scruffy as we drop kids off at school,” Aronovitz said. “I was happy to see everyone looking so good, we clean up well.”
An awards ceremony was also a part of the event.
The Teaching Excellence Awards, which was created by the school’s board to honor faculty and staff for years of service and commitment to excellence, were given to veteran Ancona teachers, music teacher Wayne Baldwin and librarian Marsha Stewart. Both educators have taught at Ancona for 25 years.
The Spirit of Ancona Awards, which was created by the school’s board to acknowledge extraordinary service that makes an unprecedented impact on the school, were given to Board of Trustee President Josh Schwartz and his wife Janet Geovanis.