This article was originally published in the spring 2013 Harker Quarterly.
The lights dim and spies climb on the runway to gather in front of a dark screen. A hooded figure flickers to life on a video screen and, with a disguised voice, tells the agents to find out the secret to Harker’s success. The countdown begins …
The homage to “Mission: Impossible” set the tone for this year’s fashion show, Mission: Possible – Dare to Try, Harker’s 10th annual fundraising spectacular. The visionaries behind the show were parent John Keller and Laura Lang-Ree, K-12 performing arts chair, who together created a plotline that ran throughout the show: could undercover agents find the secret to why Harker students had so much fun, did so well and enjoyed school so much? A record number of dedicated volunteers supported the mission from start to finish.
Mission: Possible – Dare to Try
Before the undercover secret agent could give the spies their assignment, Showstoppers and High Voltage exploded onto the runway, dancing to the Mission Impossible theme, which the audience no doubt recognized either from the popular Tom Cruise movies or the 1960s-’70s TV series.
Student, parent and staff models took to the runway in clothes from several generous fashion partners, including Ken Chen, Azadeh, Oakley, Old Navy and Catimini; and occasionally a trench-coated secret agent would pop up onto the runway to try to infiltrate a segment, interacting with the models by grabbing their props for “observation” or dancing with them. Each segment had a title that tied into the show’s Dare to Try theme, including Dare to Dream, Dare to be Different, Dare to Succeed and Dare to be Yourself. Harker’s fine performing arts ensembles also headlined segments, as Dance Fusion performed to a party medley for Dare to Have Fun, Downbeat shook the house with “Wings” for the Dare to Fly segment and Varsity Dance Troupe rocked the Dare to Dance segment, appropriately.
The show had a high-tech gloss, with video montages playing on three large screens, fog,
exciting lighting effects and a status bar appearing occasionally to let the audience know the mission was 25, 50, 75 and 100 percent accomplished.
The finale was particularly memorable, as Lang-Ree realized a 10-year vision with live instrumentalists accompanying models for the first time; a chamber ensemble and the Grade 5 Choir joined Downbeat to perform while senior models showed off formal evening wear.
Finally the spies cried defeat, telling their boss that they didn’t want to infiltrate Harker – they wanted to go there! And, lo and behold, the agent pulled off his hood and revealed himself as Chris Nikoloff, head of school. The real Nikoloff took the runway moments later to thank the guests for coming and offer a well-deserved round of applause to the countless volunteers and staff who put this spectacular show together.
Not Just About the Fashion
This year’s luncheon show featured a live auction for the first time. Damon Casatico, Harker’s favorite dinnertime auctioneer, was back after a year away and worked the crowd into a bidding mood as guests vied for the chance to record their own CD in a professional studio, enjoy a day at Discovery Bay or swap places with their teachers for a day.
Spy movies always seem to include glamorous locales, and the fashion show was no exception, with a full-scale casino in the lobby, where guests flooded the tables to try their luck, and a photo center where attendees could have their pictures taken in front of some exotic world sites, including the Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower.
The dinner auction had some unbelievable packages, including a meet-and-greet with PayPal and Tesla founder Elon Musk at his SpaceX facility, an internship at high-tech firm Prysm, a prime 49ers package and the chance to become an avatar in the next version of Guitar Hero. The ever-popular puppy was back, too, this year in the form of Kona, an adorable chocolate Labrador who found a new home with the Nikoloff family.