March 16, 2022

On Saturday, March 5, 2022, generous supporters of the Irvine Public Schools Foundation (IPSF) gathered for the 25th Anniversary Spirit of Excellence Gala at the Great Park’s Hanger 244 in Irvine. The elegant celebration welcomed a mix of guests including civic and business leaders as well as individual community members and raised over $1 Million to fund critical programs and classroom support for Irvine Unified School District (IUSD).

As a leading nonprofit, whose mission is to enrich the educational experience of each child in every school, IPSF relies on generous community support to fulfill its commitment to provide programs, raise funds, and unite the community in support of educational excellence in Irvine schools.

“This year marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Irvine Public Schools Foundation – a small non-profit founded by a group of passionate parents that has now evolved into the largest education foundation in California and one of the leading nonprofits in the country.” said Neda Eaton, President and CEO of Irvine Public Schools Foundation. “Our annual gala has been a shining example of how community support of education can effect real change for our young people. We are proud to facilitate public-private partnerships that provide innovative programs and opportunities to inspire students to follow their dreams and make the world a better a place.”

Throughout the night, guests experienced special performances by IUSD students including Irvine High School’s drumline, Portola High School’s string quartet, in addition to IPSF’s very own elementary and middle school afterschool musical program who performed scenes from High School Musical. A highlight was a special collaboration of IUSD alumni artists, featuring Dustin Kensrue of Thrice and Aric Damm of The Brevet.

The evening also celebrated the accomplishments of two honorees who each received the Spirit of Excellence Award in their respective fields, in recognition of their achievements.

These honorees included:

  • Spirit of Excellence in Service IUSD School Nurses. This year, IPSF is proud to honor the school nurses who support the well-being of the over 36,000 students in grades K-12 districtwide. Thanks to their work, each child in IUSD has access to high-quality health services in school. The award was received by Shadlie Kensrue, Irvine High Alumni ‘99 and IUSD Coordinator of Health Services. Watch honoree video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAW4uW6DxXU
  • Spirit of Excellence in the Arts Bardia Shah-Rais, 5-time Emmy Award winning producer who worked at NFL Network and now at Fox Sports. Shah-Rais graduated from University High School in 1991 and now oversees studio production for MLB on FOX, BIG NOON KICKOFF, and FOX’s Big East and Big 10 basketball shows. Watch honoree video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydox-6oX5JA

“The success of the 2022 Spirit of Excellence Gala is a testament to the unwavering support the Irvine community has for education,” said Eaton. “Our sponsors, Board of Trustees and gala committee showed tremendous leadership, which resulted in one of our most successful events to date. The funds raised will make an impact in the educational experience of over 36,000 students in our community.”

In addition to presenting sponsor FivePoint, other major corporate sponsors included FUTEK, Total Wine & More, Angels Baseball Foundation, and Kading Briggs LLP.