This article originally appeared in the winter 2014 Harker Quarterly.
On Oct. 12, the Harker community united at the middle school campus for the Harker Family & Alumni Picnic Harvest Festival, held each year to draw together families, faculty, staff and alumni in a fun – and fundraising – setting. As in past years, attendees played carnival games, enjoyed a variety of foods, watched performances by Harker students, renewed past friendships and made new friends. This year’s festival was capped by great news about the events center fundraising effort, which exceeded the $20 million goal and raised $25.4 million.
Festivalgoers had no shortage of activities to choose from. Some headed to the field for classic pastoral games such as the sack race, while others enjoyed a round of laser tag, new last year, which featured an improved arena with more obstacles.
The silent auction was also as popular as ever, with a wide array of prizes from wine tasting trips to boogie boarding lessons to premium seating at a 49ers game at Levi’s Stadium. This year’s raffle was improved to offer entrants more opportunities to win prizes by having students sell tickets at every school event leading up to the festival, including Homecoming. Prizes included gift cards to local businesses and eateries, fashion accessories and free dress days.
“It exceeds our expectations,” said Harker parent Lloyd Bakan (Cooper, preschool), who was attending his first Harvest Festival. “I didn’t know what to expect, but it certainly is a great atmosphere and fun for all the kids and parents.”
Harker students, meanwhile, were excited to see their friends and enjoy the atmosphere. “You get to have a lot of fun and you get to see all your friends and play a lot of games,” said Alaina Valdez, grade 6.
“I’ve been coming here for 10-plus years and each year I have more and more fun,” said senior Jeton Gutierrez-Bujari. “I love the different booths and seeing all my friends. I think having your friends here is definitely a plus.”
Many alumni gathered at the alumni barbecue luncheon, where graduates reunited to catch up and share memories of their years at Harker.
The middle school campus’ outdoor amphitheater was the center of attention for much of the day as performing arts groups from the lower, middle and upper schools – including the upper school show choir Downbeat, middle school dance groups Showstoppers and High Voltage, and the lower and middle school jazz bands – kept audiences entertained.
One of the biggest attractions this year was Witch’s Flight, a 300-foot long zip line ride that enticed thrill-seekers throughout the day. Riders hollered with delight as they flew across the air 30 feet above the festivities.
Elsewhere, attendees enjoyed the many food choices available. Food trucks served diverse items such as tacos, Korean barbecue and grilled cheese sandwiches, in addition to the selection of grilled foods, pizza and Indian cuisine.
Capping off the fun and excitement was the announcement about the $25.4 million raised for the events center with the generous help of the Rothschild matching gift challenge. The announcement was made with the assistance of Harker’s MathCounts team, who guided the audience through the somewhat complex nature of the fundraising process. Naturally, the announcement was met with much applause, gratitude and excitement from those in attendance!