“Off To The Races” Reaches the Finish Line

It was a gala evening of food, fun, festivities, and above all, generous giving when more than 350 members of the Rivers community gathered at MacDowell Arena for the annual Rivers School Parents’ League Auction last Saturday, May 4.
This year’s horse-race-themed event saw MacDowell transformed into Churchill Downs, Pimlico, and Belmont Park all rolled into one. Through a silent auction, live auction, and various games and appeals, $357,555 was raised for professional development and student technology, as well as for a fund-a-need initiative to renovate and update the Black Box theatre on campus.

This year’s auction co-chairs were Amaris Peña-Ramos, Ginny Churchill, and Jenn Lemley. Klee Miller and Claudine Sheinkopf once again led the decorations committee, furnishing equine-themed props, a red-and-black color scheme, twinkling lights, and festive balloons and pennants. More than 100 volunteers worked behind the scenes for months, gathering auction donations, overseeing logistics, and making sure every detail of the event came off without a hitch.

“Our parent volunteers are really the key to our success,” says Amy Dunne, director of parent programs and special events. “They are truly tireless in their efforts and their attention to every detail, and it really paid off. Of course, the real winners are the students and faculty who will benefit from the tremendous generosity of the Rivers community. As always, I am grateful for this reminder of the strength of our commitment to providing the best possible educational experience for our children.”

The live auction, led with great spirit by professional auctioneer John Terrio, featured fantastic auction items and a number of lively bidding wars. Among the options were a coveted Boston Marathon runner’s number, a VIP Patriots home game experience, a weekend for four in Charleston, and an inflatable Irish pub, complete with stout on tap and a Boston Burger Company food truck. At the silent auction tables, attendees could bid on a range of items, from restaurant gift cards to electronics equipment to theater tickets to vacation packages and more.

After the live auction wound down, a final appeal was made for this year’s specific funding initiative: Much-needed renovations to the Black Box theater, which will enhance the school’s performing arts program and touch the experience of all Rivers students. An entertaining video, with a special appearance by Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa, brought appreciative laughter but underscored the serious need for upgrades to the theater. The Rivers community rose to the occasion, with donations of $171,000 earmarked for this initiative.

Most notable, perhaps, was the sense of fellowship and shared purpose among the attendees. As Head of School Ned Parsons remarked afterward, “The feeling in the room was fantastic—a real testament to the spirit of the community.”

Click here to see our SmugMug photo gallery from the auction, and here to see a video recap of the evening.