Craving a weekend getaway to the land of crepes and romance? The struggling economy hardly affords an overseas rendezvous, with a Memorial Day ticket from San Diego to Paris costing $1,200.
Skip the 14-hour travel time and the jet lag, grab a beret and a baguette to get into the spirit and instead, join the San Diego French-American School for its 21st year gala: “An Invitation to the Voyage.”
The school, which is in La Jolla, will host its annual gala, featuring an auction, dinner and dance, on May 24 at the Airport Lounge in Little Italy. Guests are invited to enjoy an open champagne bar during the silent auction, a buffet dinner, dancing and an after-party that will extend until 2 a.m. at the club.
Proceeds from the 2009 auction and dinner will go to the school, which features students from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade. As the San Diego French-American School’s largest fundraiser, the annual gala provides funds for classroom improvements, the purchase of sports gear and more.
“We are very excited this year about taking our gala to an unconventional, fresh location such as the Airport Lounge,” said Hang Black, a parent from La Jolla and gala chair. “Everyone will be able to freely mingle in a relaxed, fun atmosphere. Besides the online auction, this year we are also offering a raffle for one year of tuition.”
The event’s online auction puts a distinctive spin on the traditional fundraiser. Guests can bid on items online now, almost three weeks before the gala. New this year, the online auction is open to the public and features such items up for bid as accommodations at the exclusive Pommard vineyard in Burgundy, a private tour of the Reagan Foundation Library and Air Force One, and the opportunity to attend a lecture by Condoleezza Rice.
“We decided to go online with our auction this year in order for participants to easily browse and navigate directly to the auction items for which they have the most interest,” Black said. “Some families are more interested in travels, some in food and wine and some in services. The online auction also allows us to reach parents who may be unable to attend the event, as well as the broader community.”
Founded in 1988 by Andre and Chandra Bordes, the San Diego French-American School is a nonprofit organization that has 338 students enrolled. Of these students, around 45 percent are from La Jolla, Carmel Valley, Del Mar and Solana Beach, according to communications and admissions officer Virginia Berracasa.
The private school offers a dual immersion, multicultural program, with almost 80 percent of the coursework taught in the French language. While students are prepared to enter either a traditional American high school or a French lycee after eighth grade, most graduates attend San Diego High School’s School of International Studies for the International Baccalaureate diploma.
“The annual gala serves as a wonderful opportunity for the school community to gather together and celebrate the school that we feel lucky to be a part of,” said Ann Christensen of Carmel Valley, whose son is in fourth grade at the school. “Teachers, administrative staff, parents and friends can make new acquaintances and spend time with old friends. The event gives everyone involved with the school the opportunity to gather together as a family.”
With this year’s emphasis on VIP experiences, committee members hope to exceed fundraising from previous years and look forward to applying proceeds toward rapidly improving and expanding the school’s facilities. On the San Diego French-American School’s wish list? Interactive whiteboards for the middle school classes, a playhouse for the pre-elementary students and an increase in financial aid for deserving students.
‘An Invitation to the Voyage’
-7 p.m. to 2 a.m. May 24
-2400 India St., Little Italy