This story originally appeared in the spring 2014 Harker Quarterly.
Casino chips clicking, hopeful bidders on the edges of their seats during the live auction, the clink of silverware, laughter and conversation – these were the sights and sounds of Night on the Town, Harker’s 11th annual gala, held this year at the San Jose Marriott.
The Marriott’s ballroom and two large lobby areas provided lots of room for the elegantly attired guests to socialize and meet up with friends. A silent auction, which opened for bidding a few days before the gala, offered vacation getaways, homecoming and graduation packages, the chance to shadow business professionals, and video software. Lucky live auction winners will enjoy a Hawaiian vacation, a visit to the San Francisco 49ers Winter Fest and – for the night’s highest winning bid of $15,000 – a trip to Los Angeles for the “American Idol” finale, to name just a few.
Out in the lobby, Harker students sold raffle tickets to patrons, who then dropped those tickets in boxes promising everything from beauty products to picnic baskets filled with goodies. Also in the lobby were several casino tables and refreshment stations, allowing guests to mix and mingle with friends and try their hands at some Vegas-style games.
Over dinner, Chris Nikoloff, head of school, and event chair Tina Najibi (Mary, grade 10) welcomed the crowd and introduced the show portion of the evening, which was a montage of video and live performances that showcased the school’s talented students, faculty and parents, and helped the audience understand the purpose of the evening: to raise funds for the construction of a theater and gym complex on the upper school campus, as well funds for financial aid.
Dance Fusion, Downbeat and Varsity Dance Troupe performed show-stopping numbers, and middle school teachers Mark Gelineau and Keith Hirota, with their many backup dancers, wowed the crowd with a terrific Blues Brothers imitation and lip sync.
A faculty/student rock band showed off the versatility of many: Brian Larsen (K-12 production manager) channeled his inner Huey Lewis by fronting a band comprising guitarist Chris Florio (upper school music); keyboardist Evan Barth (dean of studies); trumpeter Dave Hart (middle school music); drummer Nikoloff; and student musicians and singers in a rousing version of “Hip to Be Square.”
A particularly charming set of dances were the mother/son and father/daughter numbers, performed by both faculty and non-faculty parents and their kids, to “Good Times” by Chic and “My Girl” by The Temptations, respectively.
After the show and dinner, some guests returned to the casino games in the lobby while others hopped up on stage and danced the night away to tunes spun by a DJ. Harker Board of Trustees member Christine Davis, who was one of three chairs for the inaugural fashion show gala 11 years ago, attended Night on the Town and said, “I congratulate Harker on the outstanding event on Friday.”
The event was produced by the advancement office, and the show was directed by Laura Lang-Ree, chair of Harker’s K-12 performing arts department, with production management by Larsen and set design by Paul Vallerga.