Glitz, glamour, and giving highlight first Spring Gala since 2017


Lynda Shenkman

The Masters Gala took months of preparation from parent volunteers. TBN learns more about the planning efforts from Gala Chair Jen Nappo and Director of Parent Engagement Amie Servino.

Lucas Seguinot, Lead Features Editor

This year parents, teachers, alumni, and performers gathered in an extravagant celebration of the Masters community, known as the Spring Gala. Planned by the Parents Association (PA), the Advancement Office, and

“As a community of all different people of talent and backgrounds, when we come together collectively with our might we are able to support our students, program, and campus.”

— Amie Servino Head of Parent Engagement

, this event happens every three years. But due to COVID-19 canceling the 2020 Gala, this is the first time the event has taken place since 2017.  Behind all of the glitz and glamor are months of preparation, planning the venue, the theme, and arranging for all the people who attend. 

Servino worked closely with Jennifer Nappo, Gala Chair and parent of three Masters students including a current senior, who was in charge of communicating with the Parents Association for this event. Alongside volunteers from the PA, the committee of volunteers went on to choose a theme. They eventually agreed on the theme of “Our Might”. 

Servino explains the significance behind the theme. “As a community of all different people of talent and backgrounds, when we come together collectively with our might we are able to support our students, program, and campus.”

This year, the funding proceeds for this event will go to three priorities: financial aid, performing arts, and technology. A handful of events allowed attendees to donate varying amounts of money. These activities include a live auction, a silent auction, and a paddle raise. 

The process of forming the auction starts with a call out to the Masters community. Willing members of the community have the opportunity to have some of their items or unique experiences auctioned off in support of the school. Some of the big ticket items included this year were Taylor Swift tickets, front-row tickets for the upcoming years of graduation, dinner with Michael Douglas (actor and father of alumni Dylan Douglas ‘18), and even a private screening of the upcoming Martin Scorsese movie in his private studio. Sources who attended the gala reported to Tower that the combined take on the Taylor Swift tickets, the private viewing experience, dinner with Michael Douglas, and a private music lesson with renowned songwriter, singer, alumni, and parent Kara Dio Guardi sold for over 40,000 dollars.   The planning committee didn’t disclose the final auction value of each of these items to protect the privacy of the buyers. Both of these auctions were run by a professional auctioneer and brought together with the help of Jodie Smith, the Parent Association’s auction chair.

The paddle raise acts as a more straightforward way to donate to the priorities at hand. The auctioneer starts high in value and gradually lowers the amount of money. Those who raised their paddle agreed to donate the amount that was up at the time of their raise. 

“Our goal is for everyone to feel that if they want to support the school they can, no matter the dollar amount,” Servino said.

Servino explains that this gala should be accessible to all members of the community no matter their financial background.

“We have been able to work with Andy Scheider, the school CFO, and through the generosity of parents we have been able to offer financial aid assistance for families that wanted to attend.”

A total of 438 parents, teachers, and alumni attended. Servino says that this large undertaking was made easier by the people around her. 

“This is a very different event than the one we had in 2017.  I don’t think it has been more difficult to plan but that is because Jen [Nappo] worked on our 2017 event and has a background with special events, and there was a lot of expertise just from the committee itself.” 

Alongside the advancement office, DOPA (the Department of Performing Arts) played a major part in the planning and execution of this event. Over 60 students from both the Middle and Upper School were involved in five separate performances over the four-hour event. These groups include a string ensemble, chamber music ensemble, Great Gig performers, and even a performance with Kara Dio Guardi. Alongside Dio Guardi, Katherine Christie ‘23, Angel Henriquez ‘24, Kat Benson ‘27 and DOPA teacher John Alec-Raubeson DioGuardi performed “Heartbeat Song,” a song written by Dio Guardi that became a hit when it was recorded by Kelly Clarkson in 2015. 

The chair of DOPA, Jennifer Carnvale, believes that it is important for these performances to be displayed. “It was important for us to participate in this so that people can see what they are contributing to clearly.”

Saxophonist for the Great Gig and the Spring Gala, Lucas Camacho ‘25 saw the experience of performing for this big event as fairly low-stress and exciting. “Everybody was pretty nonjudgemental and open to having fun, so for me, it was just another great performance with some friends.”

After a total of six months’ worth of preparation, the Spring Gala was held on Thursday, April 20. Looking to the future, the money raised from the Gala brings potential projects, including the renovation of Strayer Hall and the Claudia Boettcher Theater, one step closer to reality. These changes will be explored through a new funding campaign called “Our Might”. The recent renovation of the Library, Strong, Thompson, Ford, McCormack, and Cole dorms, and the creation of The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center are just four of the six transformational projects relating to the construction and renovations of buildings that the school has planned. There is no immediate timeline for the start of work on Strayer and the Boettcher Theater. 

Katherine Christie sees these renovations as a huge boost to the school. “I am very happy about proceeds potentially going to Strayer because I think we have a very strong performing arts department, but we don’t have the resources that we should.”

“I wish that I could use the building now…but I am excited for my sister to potentially use it in the future.”