October 19, 2017

On Saturday, October 14, 2017, Irvine Public Schools Foundation (IPSF) hosted its 8th Annual Spirit of Excellence Gala at KIA Motors America. With over 400 guests in attendance, including a mix of civic and business leaders as well as individual community members, the event raised more than $720,000 in net proceeds. Funds raised will help fund critical programs and classroom support for Irvine Unified School District (IUSD).

The evening began with a Hollywood-style red carpet arrival, cocktail reception and Silent Auction, featuring more than 50 exclusive items. Coveted items in the auction included a Tuscany Wine Trip donated by Total Wine and More, a chef’s tasting dinner at Habana restaurant, and autographed sports memorabilia from such notable athletes as Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Warren Moon. Students from Irvine and Northwood High School performed a drumline battle during the reception to usher the guests into the ballroom.

“We are so honored to have the opportunity to showcase the talent and achievements of both current and former students that have become the hallmark of Irvine Unified School District,” explains Neda Eaton, President and CEO of Irvine Public Schools Foundation. “Our annual gala is 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 that have the ability to inspire students to follow their dreams and make the world a better a place.”

Hosted by Dennis Kuhl, Chairman at Angels Baseball, the evening featured a moving performance of Lean on Me by the Grammy Award winning Woodbridge High School choir as well as a performance by Island Apollo, Northwood High School alumni and the recipients of the Rising Star Award at the event. A live auction during dinner featured six amazing experiences, including a Neiman Marcus Fashionista package, tickets to the sold out production of Hamilton, and a VIP day at the Del Mar races.

The evening also celebrated the accomplishments of three individuals whose education in Irvine set the stage for their future success. Honorees each received the Spirit of Excellence Award in their respective fields, in recognition of their achievements.

These honorees included:

  • Spirit of Excellence in the ArtsSteve Bass, Multi-Emmy Award winning Production Designer (Irvine High School Class of 1987)
  • Spirit of Excellence in JournalismEli Stokols, White House Reporter, The Wall Street Journal (University High School Class of 1997)
  • Spirit of Excellence in LeadershipCassie Parham, IUSD Assistant Superintendent of Education Services (Irvine High School Class of 1988)

“The success of the 2017 Spirit of Excellence Gala is a testament to the unwavering support the Irvine community has for education,” said Eaton. “Our sponsors and gala committee showed tremendous leadership, which resulted in our most successful event yet. The funds raised will make an impact in the educational experience of over 34,000 students in our community.”

FivePoint was the presenting sponsor for the eighth consecutive year. Other corporate sponsors included The Resort at Pelican Hill, Microsemi, Greenberg Traurig, Pillsbury Law, Cox Communications, Kading Briggs LLP and Wells Fargo.

            Photo Gallery
                 Red Carpet                 Videos

Thank you to Werkit Photo and Orange County Films for helping us capture this incredible event!