No, I wasn’t Darth Vader… but the vast majority of people attending our Mack to the Future auction thought I was, because they were greeted by Darth Vader as they entered the lobby to check in. It was actually a member of the 501st Garrison – a volunteer organization of actors who attend events for non-profits. He and three of his friends (dressed as a Storm Trooper, a Tuscan Raider, and an Imperial Pilot) posed for pictures and helped set the stage for our unique auction.
This year was the first year that both campuses made the jump to online bidding. Mack-Boulder was able to open its silent auction mid-week in order to build interest and hype for Saturday night. What we didn’t expect was to open our doors on Saturday with upwards of $14,000 in bids already in motion!
Mack to the Future was a grand event complete with space-themed table settings, colored globes hanging from the ceiling, and truss lighting that splashed futuristic colors everywhere. Guests came out in force this year dressed in a variety of costumes that reflected our creative community: Marty McFly, Wonder Woman, Captain Picard, and Men in Black, to name a few. As guests admired one another’s attire and sipped on signature cocktails emulating light saber colors, they were able to meander through the silent auction offerings and socialize comfortably in our new spacious venue. The larger space was definitely needed, as we had 158 people attending, a number significantly higher than last year’s 125!
Thanks to our online bidding system, guests were able to dine on delicious food provided by Three Leaf Catering and Moxie Bread Co. while simultaneously checking their bids. When our auctioneer gave the five minute warning before the silent auction closed, attendees hopped on their phones for some furious competitive bidding. We had a wide range of marvelous silent auction items, ranging from themed bundles of gift certificates to jewelry to unique collaborative art pieces created by our classes. Some of the most popular items up for bid were Teacher Treasures, experiences donated by the staff such as fishing, hiking, or cooking with one or more teachers. One of our items with the highest bids was a Bedtime Story and Cookies offered by our kindergarten teachers!
Once the silent auction closed and the buffet was cleared, it was time to move on to the live auction. From exotic vacations to standout class gifts, the offerings were incredible. Once again, Teacher Treasures were a hot commodity, with class campouts selling for a combined total of $8,400! While the live auction bidding was competitive, it was all in good fun and raised over $36,000 for our campus.
The playful aura of the event continued even when we started the live appeal to raise money for school improvements. Last year’s auction live appeal helped raise funds to build a permanent home for our school library and to revamp our Great Hall into a state-of-the-art performing arts center. Both programmatic spaces have changed the face and function of our school. This year our appeal was focused on something that at least on the surface wasn’t as “tangible” or “sexy” as building a new library.
Earlier in the fall, our current 6th grade class studied energy production and consumption as part of one of their IB units of inquiry. As part of their investigation, the grade broke into Mack Energy Audit Teams (M.E.A.T.) that measured the energy consumption in each of our school spaces. Their detailed final report made practical recommendations about how and where we could cut costs and lower our carbon footprint. Their audit also detailed how badly our inefficient boilers, ancient windows, and poor insulation lead to wasted money and a huge carbon footprint. As result of our poor HVAC infrastructure, our learning spaces are almost always either too cold or too hot. To introduce this topic, I made a news style video of our students and teachers alternately bundled up in snow clothes in the classroom or studying in sweat-soaked clothes. After the laughter had died down, I gave them the numbers – we needed $100,000 to address these issues. The good news? A generous donor had put up a $50,000 challenge match, so we “only” needed to raise $50,000 more to reach our goal. Once again, due to the incredible generosity of our Mack-Boulder community, we blew past our goal and raised over $120,000 for the appeal alone. Our students will be thankful during every month of the roller-coaster weather that is Colorado, and we can feel a lot better about being good citizens in regards to the environment with a reduced carbon footprint.
While a few final numbers are still settling we made at least $185,000 during the Mack to the Future evening (including the $50K match). Not bad for a school of 118 students! Thank you to all of our parents, teachers, grandparents, and friends of the school who helped us surpass our goals. Thanks to some incredible support from corporate and friend sponsors, we were able to underwrite $11,500 of our expenses. If you add that to the ticket sales which included parent and Board underwriting for 31 teachers and spouses/partners to attend, our auction costs were nearly net zero. This translates into all of our money, dollar for dollar, going back into supporting our amazing Mack learners.
Our school could not have pulled anything like this off without the incredible passion, skill, and support of our parent leadership. During the auction we scrolled a list of thank you-s (Star Wars credit style) that was 50-60 parents deep. While I don’t have room for all of them here, I would like to highlight our leaders who put in an extraordinary amount of hours getting us launched. Thank you to our committee leaders: Patrick Sullivan and Jill Nepper (Auction Chairs), Alex Bradley (Catering, Etc.), Missy Gill (Games, Venue, Decorations, Etc.); Laura Lee (Acquisitions); Amy Reichlin (Decorations, Silent Bundling); Jenny Strode (Desserts); Lauren Wilson (Volunteers), and to Kristi Pikiewicz for so much behind the scenes support.
Not surprisingly, our hard-working auction committee has already met several times since Saturday to reflect on the evening and to look ahead to next year’s April 29th, 2017 auction. With a year to plan I hope my costume will reach something equal to Darth Vader quality!
~JJ Morrow, Mack-Boulder Head of School