The upper school campus became an eveningland of lights, music and fun on Saturday night, as Harker held the 125th Anniversary Gala, its first gala since 2016. Held in the new athletic center and branching out to the Rothschild Performing Arts Center’s Patil Theater, more than 370 parents, alumni, faculty and staff were feted with custom videos, singing, live music, dancers, top-drawer food and drink, a hot band and great company.
Actor D.J. Blickenstaff ’09 and opera singer Gabrielle DeMers ’03 brought their special talents to their alma mater for the evening, along with a host of current student performers.
The gala, reformed and resurrected following the opening of the new athletic center (2017) and Rothschild Performing Arts Center (2018), was also the final major event in Harker’s 125th anniversary celebration. Suspended during construction, the event took place in the newest portion of the upper school campus, opening with the show in the Patil Theater at 6:30 p.m.
The Gala Show was emceed, and included a special performance, by Blickenstaff (“Dear White People,” “Colony” and “Catching a Break”). Segments highlighting aspects of Harker’s programs were enhanced by historical photos and related performances by the Harker Jazz Band, Varsity Dance Troupe, Cantilena, Dance Fusion and Downbeat.
DeMers, a professional opera singer, sang the tour de force aria “The Jewel Song” from Gounod’s “Faust.” The show’s finale brought back Blickenstaff and DeMers, and culminated in – for the first time ever – all of Harker’s vocal, dance and instrumental groups performing together, including the middle school’s Concert Choir; boys hip-hop group, Kinetic Krew; and Showstoppers, the grade 7-8 dance troupe. Head of School Brian Yager shared a few remarks and announced the launch of the school’s new 125th Gift Initiative.
Following the show, guests moved to the athletic center’s Zhang Gym, now deep in party trim, for cocktails and more entertainment, including an auction.
Master of Ceremonies Jeff Draper welcomed attendees and led them through some games. Hors d’oeuvres and drinks were available in a beautifully decorated area on the gym floor, where guests could bid on auction items and try to win jewelry and wine. The evening’s food was prepared by the outstanding Harker culinary staff lead by Chef Steve Martin.
During dinner, Draper introduced a tribute to the seniors, which included some recorded memories by students and a slide show of every member of the Class of 2019. The event really got swinging after dinner as the Cosmo Alleycats brought their special brand of music to the dance floor. Other features of the evening included a special 125th anniversary photo booth with cool props where guests could take selfies or have a portrait taken.
The whole extravaganza was made possible by many kind donors, including presenting sponsors Rao and Rohini Mulpuri, and Fermi Wang and Jean Aida Kung. Gold sponsors were Atiq Raza and Nandini Saraiya of Reveti Jewels Inc., and Bobby and Ann Johnson, as well as an anonymous donor. Gold group sponsorship included DJ and Devika Patil, Vik and Roma Ghai, Amrita and Sunit Mukherjee, Priya and Shiva Shivakumar, and Suneela Muddu and Muddu Sudhakar.
Silver sponsors were Neeraj and Anisha Gupta; Nikki Lin and Brian Duff; and Yoko, leok SiTou and Tony Lau. Bronze sponsors were Ganesh and Sunitha Krishna, Robert Lee & Associates LLP, Devcon Construction Inc., and Vivek Thoppay, managing director at Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc.