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Events in the Age of Pandemic
Mrs. Diane Cruz, Fundraising and Events Manager

To say this past year was strange and challenging is an understatement. And in the world of events here at CHC, it was all about reimagining and redefining how they would and could happen. It was important to preserve several of our signature events, while prioritizing health and safety and we covered the full spectrum from an almost “normal” event to going fully virtual.

New for the 2020-2021 school year, we hosted two drive-in movie events. This allowed us to gather families together while maintaining social distancing. On two impressive LED screens, in December, families enjoyed the movie Elf from the warmth and comfort of their cars. A group of senior Peer Leaders delivered hot chocolate and snacks and helped with parking. It was a great night and many of our students enjoyed their first on-campus event of the year. In the spring, we moved the event to accommodate even more cars and families and showed a Disney favorite, Moana. With the warmer weather, guests could sit outside their cars and enjoy the movie, plus we had a shaved ice truck there to provide some refreshment. These events were a crowd favorite!

Our Veterans Day Breakfast and Lower School Grandparents’ Day were notably bittersweet. While these events are usually highly attended, it was not possible to host either event in person, but it was still important that we meaningfully celebrated both virtually.

For our Veterans Day Breakfast, we created a very special video tribute, featuring Finley Stoops '21, whose father and grandfather have both served in the military, and CMDR Emile Cochet, father of Scotty Cochet ‘33 and Grant Cochet ‘30, from the U.S. Coast Guard. They both spoke about the sacrifices of not only those in the military but also their families. The Lower and Middle School students also shared their thanks for those who have served. Altogether, it became a moving celebration of our veterans that we shared with all families.

For Lower School Grandparents’ Day, interviews with some of our Lower School students provided some of the most heartfelt, funny, and precious moments captured on camera. Together with amazing performances from our arts department, including an incredible montage of our dance students, we were able to create a meaningful compilation video that we could share with grandparents no matter where they lived. It offered us the opportunity to reach a wider audience and create something that could be viewed again and again. We look forward to the time when we can welcome our grandparents and special guests back to campus.

The biggest challenge came with the Grand Auction in January. As an event that parents, alumni, faculty, staff, and many others look forward to every year, it was extremely important to reimagine this annual event and offer our silent and live auctions plus the opportunity for Raise the Paddle. Fortunately, the world of benefit auction events had been rapidly transforming into digital experiences and by January 2021, we were able to capitalize on the use of new technology to create an event that was both virtual and interactive. With the help of a local production studio, we broadcasted our live auction and Raise the Paddle over the internet and utilized our mobile bidding system to allow guests to participate in real-time. Our virtual guests with enhanced tickets enjoyed a swag bag delivered to their homes as well as dinner from Chops. The support from our community was overwhelming and the Grand Auction was a huge success.

Finally, by April the world was starting to emerge from our cocoons and outdoor activities were becoming more prevalent as they were deemed safer and we were thrilled to be able to move forward with the Scot Creech Classic Golf Tournament. With a few adjustments here and there (and perfect weather!) it was a wonderful day. Not having the banquet dinner did not seem to bother the 120 golfers who showed up that day to play in our sold out tournament.

As I reflect back on this year, it’s important to note that with all our events, whether they were video, virtual, hybrid, or in-person, they all served to connect our community and our families. And with these reimagined events we learned a great deal about event technology, health safety measures, and new ways to enhance the experiences and give us the ability to reach wider audiences. CHC is looking forward to creating more magical moments where we can bring families together safely and easily in different meaningful ways throughout the the 2021-2022 school year.

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