“We’re thrilled to see this level of support from the community,” said Foundation President Dr. Wendy Herman of the annual Flavors of the Vineyard event. Each year the foundation emphasizes a different program to benefit the district’s 8,300 students in 10 schools. Funds raised from Friday’s extravaganza are earmarked for the foundation’s $50,000 pledge to launch an ingenious program.
“We’re targeting technology this year,” said Herman. “And the money we raise will help fund a pilot program to supply students – elementary as well as middle-schoolers – with iPads as learning tools in the classroom.”
According to Foundation Board Member Lori Strauss, helping the district’s youngest scholars get a jump on the latest in learning technology is a vital element of the plan. “We’re still working out the details of the curriculum, but it’s very important to us that all our students benefit.”
Echoing Strauss’ sentiment was event auctioneer and Edna Hill Middle School drama director Bart Schneider. “My son is a fourth-grader on the Odyssey of the Mind team,” said Schneider, “and the foundation is making it possible for them to go to the world competition by giving the team $500 for dorm rooms. Tonight doesn’t relate directly to Odyssey, but the foundation’s doing a tremendous job supporting our students in all sorts of ways.”
Guests promenaded past tables pairing wineries with restaurants and caterers. Pouring standards such as chardonnay, cabernet and syrah, plus more exotic varietals such as viognier and petit verdot, were representatives of Bloomfield Vineyards, Hannah Nicole Vineyards and Winery, Tamayo Family Vineyards and Viano Vineyards. Food was provided by BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, Bowling Over Pigs, Brentwood Fine Meats, Farmer’s Daughter Produce & Coffee Bar, Nothing Bundt Cakes – Emeryville, Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill, Salad Makers, Scottie’s Shutters Brasserie, Sweeney’s Grill & Bar, TL Cakes, Vic Stewart’s and Willy’s Bagels & Blends.
Although not queued up for the wine tasting, students were well represented in the form of the All-Middle School Wind Ensemble, under the joint direction of Cheryl Breitenbucher of Edna Hill Middle School, Lindsay Kellogg of Adams Middle School, and Mark Morello of Bristow Middle School. The ensemble serenaded the crowd with a spirited performance of selections ranging from classical to popular.
Guests were also treated to a display of virtuoso pianistry by Bristow eighth-grader and San Francisco Conservatory of Music student Alex Marquez, who captured the chromatic romance of Chopin and the stormy drama of Beethoven. And the funk, rock, R&B, Motown, disco and Top 40 stylings of the band ThePlayThings, led by event emcee Steve Hanson – husband of Loma Vista 2012 Teacher of the Year Stacey Hanson – got the crowd shakin’.
Among the items donated for the live auction were a fall wine pairing dinner for eight contributed by Hannah Nicole; a five-course wine pairing gourmet dinner for eight served in Jeff and Sara Tamayo’s wine cellar; a summer makeover at Rubia Salon and Spa; a fitness training assessment and four private training sessions with Certified Physical Trainer Linda Sullivan; a day of boating on the Delta courtesy of Doug and Wendy Herman – and their Master Craft ski boat – followed by a poolside barbecue at the Brentwood home of Stan and Kelli Nunn; and a “Fun Day for Four in Brentwood,” including breakfast at Willy’s Bagels & Blends, lunch at Brentwood Fine Meats and dinner at Grazie! Grille, plus cherry U-picking at Nunn Better Farms and a feature flick at Rave Motion Pictures Brentwood 14.
As you can imagine, the bidding competition was fierce. Schneider’s lively auctioneering helped reel in a $7,800 bundle from battling benefactors. The final tally of gross proceeds for the evening topped $23,000.
Among the many supporters singled out by Herman were the host and hostess, Hannah Nicole owners Neil and Glenda Cohn, who donated their facility for the event and circulated through the rooms to ensure their guests were well supplied with wine, food and conversation.
And when the conversation turned to the needs of students, the tone turned notably energetic and upbeat.