IPSF Spirit of Excellence Gala

Karen Bruce, Staff Writer

Children playing at the Great Park stopped in their tracks as they looked out at a puzzling sight: distinguished members of the Irvine community in tuxedos and sparkling dresses, sauntering down a red carpet into a secluded gathering in front of Hangar 244. Little did they know that inside these walls, the IPSF Spirit of Excellence Gala was underway, and that by the end of the night $900,000 would be raised to directly support them and their education.
The Gala on March 5 brought together corporate partners, individual donors and city officials to raise funds for public schools and recognize honorable people in the community. Among the distinguished guests were the Board of Education members, Superintendent Terry Walker and City Councilmember Anthony Kuo.
The main event of the night occurred in the decorated hangar, where bid cards shot up in the air as the live auction proceeded. Featuring prizes such as vacation getaway tickets, private sushi chefs and autographed collectibles, the auction raised over $90,000 in the span of an hour.
“All of us being here in this amazing hangar represents a community that is united in support of the future of our community: our students,” IPSF President and CEO Neda Eaton said. “We have certainly proven that when a community works together, we can effect real change.”
IPSF also awarded their Excellence in Service award to the IUSD nurses in recognition of their work during the pandemic. When Health Services Coordinator Shadlie Kensrue received the award on behalf of the 26 IUSD nurses, the crowd rose in a standing ovation.
“The heart of the IUSD nurse team is what makes them exceptional and it is what has allowed us to endure these last two very difficult years, working tirelessly to keep our schools open and keep our students and our staff safe,” Kensrue said. “In the spirit of IUSD school nurses, let us never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”
The money raised from this event will be used to fund projects such as creating better educational tools for students with visual impairments and providing life skills education for students with autism. It will also help fund existing music, enrichment and grant programs.
“Nonprofit organizations like ours depend on public support so that we can invest more resources into the areas that matter most,” Eaton said. “For us, it’s directly to classrooms, supporting educators and their efforts to make educational excellence possible.”