‘Spring in Your Step’ charity dance to benefit Gabriella Charter School

By Arielle Maxner

An on-campus dance Saturday, March 17 benefitting the Gabriella Axelrad Foundation featured food trucks, entertainment from student performers and dancers from the Gabriella Charter School. The charity dance, called “Spring In Your Step,” was held from 8 p.m. to midnight and was open to students in grades 9-12. 

The dance raised $7000 for the foundation and 417 tickets were sold.

“This was a hugely successful event,” said the Prefect Council and Community Council in an email.

Students were originally required to arrive by 8:30 p.m. and remain on-campus until 11:30 p.m., but the lockdown was removed by the administration, the Prefects announced in an email Wednesday. Students also no longer had to sign a pledge to attend.

“The school decided they didn’t think it was necessary,” senior prefect David Olodort ’12 said.

Founded by Liza Bercovici (Jacob ’10) in honor of her daughter, Gabriella, who died as a rising eighth grader at Harvard-Westlake in 1999, the Gabriella Axelrad Foundation established a kindergarten through eighth grade charter school. The Gabriella Charter School has a unique dance-centered curriculum and focuses on educating economically disadvantaged children.

The administration required that there be no fancy attire or limos, that the event be held on campus and that there be no amplified music outside past 8 p.m. Also, there are neighborhood restrictions on noise levels, so “Spring In Your Step” was held in Taper Gymnasium.

“Working within these restrictions has been very difficult,” Head Prefect Brooke Levin ’12 said. “However, we feel like we are making the most of this situation.”

Entertainment featured the Scene Monkeys, Wolverine dancers, singers, jazz musicians and guest DJ Wiley Webb ’12 in addition to the Gabri Dancers. Food trucks provided food in the Munger Courtyard, despite rain.

The Community Council and Prefect Council began planning in the beginning of the school year to create an event to replace Semiformal, which was canceled last year due to excessive drinking at an afterparty that led to student hospitalization.

“Specific detail planning began around two months ago when it looked like we actually would get approval,” Levin said. “However we weren’t even sure we had a date or official go-ahead for this event until right before the ‘save the date’ stickers came out [on Feb. 22].”

The dance was launched with a flash mob on Feb. 22 by the Scene Monkeys and members of the planning committee and was followed up with an email detailing specifics. Free cupcakes were given out on Feb. 13 to promote the then-unannounced event. The $35 tickets were available for purchase beginning March 9, the same day a fundraising raffle began with prizes offered including two iPad 3’s, tickets to a night of American Idol and a Taper parking spot.

“We hope that ‘Spring in Your Step’ can occur every year and each year a new charity can benefit,” Levin said.

“If we all support this event, we can send a message that we all want to keep a school-wide social activity on the calendar and that we can enjoy it responsibly,” Head Prefect Rishi Bagrodia ’12 and Levin said in an email.

Parents were emailed on March 9 by Head of Upper School Harry Salamandra with a message from the Prefect and Community Councils containing information about “Spring In Your Step” and asking parents to encourage their child’s attendance.

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