This article originally appeared in the spring 2015 Harker Quarterly.
At the end of February, hundreds of donors and members of the Parent Development Council (PDC) gathered on the upper school campus for the annual Head of School’s Circle Celebration.
The evening event, held in the Nichols Hall atrium, took on a new, interactive format and was held earlier in the year than usual. (Previously, the celebration was held toward the end of the school year.)
The event served to thank annual giving donors, capital campaign donors, and planned giving and endowment donors for their continued commitment to Harker and its mission. It also recognized the generosity of the Rothschild family and donors who contributed to the school’s historic $10 million Rothschild Matching Gift Challenge, as well as the Paramitas Foundation for their generous support of the school and particularly the business and entrepreneurship department.
“This year we decided to mix things up. Instead of having students come to parents for a presentation as in years past, we had the parents visit them!” explained Allison Vaughan, Harker’s director of stewardship.
After mingling and enjoying appetizers – followed by welcoming remarks from Chris Nikoloff, head of school – parents had the opportunity to visit student activity showcases. Vaughan said she was excited that many students and teachers were on hand to discuss what they are working on and passionate about, giving donors a sense of the direct impact their gifts make at the school.
There were seven different showcases, with interests grouped from all divisions where applicable. Each showcase began with a short presentation and was repeated several times, giving parents (who had been given a program and map) the opportunity to visit the showcases that most interested them.
The showcases were set up on the first and second floors of Nichols Hall. On the first floor, there was “The Art of Communication” (English, history, journalism), “It’s Showtime!” (voice, dance, instrumentals), “Understanding by Design” (making, mathematics, computer science, robotics), “Learn by Doing” (speech & debate, business & entrepreneurship) and “We are Team Harker!” (athletics). On the second floor, there was “Creativity Comes Alive” (visual arts) and “Science and Research: Hands-On Discovery” (science, research); in addition, the school’s new anatomy table was on display.
Many parents said they appreciated the chance to participate in the Head of School’s Circle Celebration in such a meaningful way, by observing what their children are learning.
Current Harker parent and PDC member Satish Dharmaraj (Nila, grade 3; Nikhil, grade 8), whose son was a presenter at the speech and debate showcase, said, “The new format was really refreshing and educational. It’s as good as it gets in seeing your money in action. Many parents loved to see the breadth of activities that students are passionate about that the school fosters. A great evening overall.”
Before the evening came to a close, Nikoloff made an exciting announcement about a new program for teachers called the Raju & Balu Vegesna Foundation Teacher Excellence Program. Through the generosity of the Raju & Bala Vegesna Foundation, Harker has the unique opportunity to support transformational professional development opportunities for a few faculty members each year.
Faculty members who wanted to be considered for the program submitted applications on March 6. (Look for an update on this program in the Harker Quarterly summer issue!)