Community Events

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SchoolPower’s Dinner Dance: Sowing the Seeds

08 Reidel & Pawling
Jason and Gorjana Reidel, Iva and Andrew Pawling

SchoolPower’s 29th annual Dinner Dance, Sowing the Seeds, brought together teachers, administrators and families in support of an initiative to equip classrooms with the latest technology for interactive learning. The event, held at Montage Laguna Beach, netted more than $225,000 for Laguna Beach schools. Attendees participated in a silent auction with prizes that included dining, sports, travel and entertainment experiences as well as items donated by many of Laguna’s local businesses. During dinner, a short film paid tribute to Top of the World Elementary School Principal Ron La Motte, who will retire at the end of this school year. The crowd then went on to pledge more than $140,000 toward this year’s SchoolPower Fund-a-Need, which will be used to purchase iPads, Apple TVs and Google Chromebooks for student use. Just when pledging began to slow, parents Holly and David Wilson committed $37,880, which thoroughly reinvigorated supporters. SchoolPower also presented a video with testimonies from teachers and students about the benefits of technology in the classroom. The addition of new tech tools will build on last year’s upgrade to the Laguna Beach Unified School District’s wireless network. Dinner concluded with a live auction that included a New York Fashion Week trip from Gorjana and Jason Reidel, a Chef’s Table dinner at Studio at Montage Laguna Beach and a stay in a Puerto Vallarta vacation home donated by Holly and David Wilson. Guests then celebrated with music and dancing, a green screen photo opportunity and freshly made mini doughnuts. ( —L.D.

Illumination Foundation’s Table For 10 Dinner

Illumination Foundation children’s choir
Illumination Foundation children’s choir

In Orange County alone, there are thousands of children without a stable home. Helping remedy this growing problem is the Illumination Foundation, founded in 2007. On March 23 at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, more than 320 of the organization’s supporters came together to raise an estimated $360,000 that will fund ongoing housing assistance, health care, workforce development and educational services for families in need. At the event, chefs from all over the county created multicourse meals for attendees, and each table had a unique menu and table decor courtesy of one of the participating restaurants. Laguna chefs played an important role in the evening, with a number of notable names cooking in support of the cause: David Fuñe of Splashes at Surf & Sand Resort; Lindsay Smith-Rosales of Nirvana Grille; Casey Overton of The Loft at Montage Laguna Beach; and Noberto Village and Rayne Frey of Tabu Grill. Other event highlights included a touching performance by 14-year-old Maddy Vance, a singer/songwriter who uses music to inspire other young people to stay strong as they face their own challenges. A live auction helped the Illumination Foundation exceed its fundraising goal by $10,000, with multiple winners taking home chefs packages, specialized bikes and watches, vacation escapes and more. ( —A.H.


Laguna Beach Alliance for the Arts’ Art Star Awards

Carl and Susan St.Clair, Susan Davis, Carol Reynolds
Carl and Susan St.Clair, Susan Davis, Carol Reynolds

Celebrating the vibrant arts community, Laguna Beach Alliance for the Arts hosted its eighth annual Art Star Awards, attended by more than 260 supporters on April 6 at seven-degrees. Following an elegant dinner and a keynote address by Laguna’s own Carl St.Clair, music director of the Pacific Symphony, seven awards were presented in Academy Awards style with trophies crafted by local bronze sculptor Louis Longi. A Lifetime Achievement Award paid tribute to Mark Dressler, longtime performing arts director at Thurston Middle School and Laguna Beach High School. Other awards included Artist of the Year: Jodie Gates, who founded Laguna Dance Festival; Best New Arts Program: Live! Music & Kids (Laguna Beach Live!); Outstanding Arts Collaboration: Art & Nature (Laguna Art Museum and partner groups); Arts Leadership: Rosemary Swimm, for organizing the Plein Air Invitational last year; Individual Arts Patron of the Year: Joe Hanauer; and Corporate Arts Patron of the Year: PIMCO Foundation. Additionally, a $5,000 inspiration grant went to Cheryl Ekstrom for her Broken/Unbroken/Broken sculpture project, which will depict journeys and adventures in life, broken and unbroken. The evening also included a presentation of “The Sock Thief,” a charming animated short film by Laguna College of Art & Design students, featuring a soundtrack performed by Laguna Concert Band under the direction of Ed Peterson, who received last year’s grant for this collaborative project. ( —S.S.

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