By Diana Polyak
Sponsors are still being solicited for the Friday, Jan. 28 “Stars in Our Eyes” performing and visual arts showcase at Parker Auditorium featuring students from The Bishop’s School, La Jolla High, La Jolla Country Day and Preuss School’s dramatic arts and music departments.
Proceeds from the event, hosted by the La Jolla Rotary Club, support the arts curriculum at each of the education facilities with specifically substantial grants, while the remaining funds are added to the Rotary’s combined scholarship funds that are then individually awarded to students after their applications are received and personal interviews are evaluated each May.
“Stars in Our Eyes” is the largest single contributor to the Rotary’s scholarship program, which grants more than $150,000 per year in financial aid to students of need and merit. Over the past five years, La Jolla Rotary has awarded more than $2 million to more than 500 qualified area high school students.
Stars program sponsorship sales director Susan Farrell is looking for donations from people who understand the value of a performing arts presence in schools and who have not participated in the past.
“Running an ad in the Stars slickly produced printed program could be someone who has a new business or someone with a long-established business that may not be getting the attention it merits,” she said. “This program is very targeted marketing – it goes directly to parents, families and friends of students, and is perfect to help underscore that sponsors are players in the community — people who are trying to help make things better.
“Additionally, it’s a great opportunity for Rotary members to share their good wishes, perhaps featuring their families, grandchildren or businesses.” Farrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2003, Rotarians Zeke Knight, a former Bishop’s School development director, along with La Jolla investor and club past president Dick Woltman, created “Stars in Our Eyes” to supplement the performing arts programs at the four La Jolla schools whose departments were then taking hits by the slashing of school district budgets, and continues today with more cuts being considered by the district.
For the past five years, “Stars in Our Eyes” has been chaired by Rotary Club members Patricia Lynch and Russell King. Their work on the show starts in September. In November, the producers begin auditions. The program is finalized in late December and, this year, produced in late January.
Drama and art teachers from the schools, realizing the importance of this one-of-a-kind fundraiser, devote many hours of time and support preparing their students and helping organizers coordinate the show. Students serve as the technical crew working under the direction of La Jolla High School drama teacher Ann Boutelle.
It was decided at the beginning of the Stars production process that a poster art competition between the participating schools’ art departments would be launched with the vote-getting winner’s art department being awarded a cash prize and the selected piece used as the cover of the performance program.