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April 21, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Portola Valley Schools Foundation invites 'hep cats' to the '51' Club Portola Valley Schools Foundation invites 'hep cats' to the '51' Club (April 21, 2004)

Gala raises funds for Ormondale, Corte Madera schools

By Marjorie Mader
Almanac Staff Writer

Tents on the grounds of the historic Runnymede Farm in Woodside will be transformed into a 1940s jazz club on Saturday evening, May 1, when the Portola Valley Schools Foundation hosts its gala fundraiser for the Portola Valley School District.

Called "Jazz at the '51' Club," after the New York City club of the same name, the event will feature cocktails and appetizers, dinner and dancing to a 16-piece band, live and silent auctions, a donation drawing and, of course, jazz.

"We thought of doing something a little different this year," says gala co-chair Diana Bergeson. Picture men in dinner jackets, women in faux fox stoles, velvet ropes at the front door, bouncers, and the ubiquitous "cigarette girl." Only, at this event, she will be selling donation drawing tickets because this is a school fundraiser.

The gentle rolling hills and outdoor sculptures of Runnymede Farm offer a fine backdrop for the school district's showcase fundraiser, as they have for the previous gala events in 1996 and 2000.

"Once again, the committee is grateful to the Rosekrans family for their gracious hospitality by donating the use of their cherished estate," says gala co-chair Sherry Andrighetto.

Planning for the gala started last May, and some of the committee members have been working full time since last September, said Ms. Bergeson. "It's been thousands and thousands of hours and thousands and thousands of e-mails," she said.

About 140 volunteers are working on the benefit that is expected to draw more than 500 parents and friends of the school district.

Proceeds will go to the foundation's annual grant to the K-8 Portola Valley School District.

Everything will happen within two tents decorated in period detail. Cocktails, appetizers and a silent auction, starting at 5:30 p.m., will be set up in one tent, and at the appropriate moment, guests will move to another tent for dinner, the live auction and dancing.

The cocktail hour will include a Grey Goose martini bar and wines from local wineries, such as Thomas Fogarty, Cronin and Page Mill Winery. Continental Catering will provide hors d'oeuvres and also the dinner.

Two jazz acts will entertain guests. Panache, a jazz choir of nine Corte Madera School students, will sing jazz standards such as "Route 66" and "Take Five." On center stage will be the Mike Cohen Sextet, a group headed by Portola Valley bandleader and guitarist Mike Cohen that has performed at Yoshi's in Oakland and the Montreux Jazz Festival.

A 16-piece high-energy show and dance band, "Full Motion" is scheduled to light up the dance floor after dinner with music that will resonate with the late baby boomer crowd.

Most of the benefit's proceeds will come from the auctions. Bruce Costello of DoveBid is auctioneer for the live auction.

First-class airline tickets for two to New York with a behind-the- scenes tour of the Broadway musical, "The Producers" are among the array of auction items. Others are a four-month lease on a Jaguar, Lexus or Volvo; fresh produce delivered to your house for a year; and the opportunity to train for a day with a SWAT team.

The benefit has received underwriting and in-kind donations from local businesses, including Three Arch Partners, Bianchini's Market, Amici Cellars, Cornish & Carey Commercial, and J. Finnigan Design.

The auction catalog may be viewed online at A complete list of underwriters also is posted on the site. More information is posted at

Invitations were mailed to the Portola Valley schools community, foundation supporters and friends. Tickets at $125 per person are also available by calling Stephanie Harman or Lynn McKinnon at 529-0744.

For more information, call Diana Bergeson or Sherry Andrighetto at 529-0744 or check and click on the "Gala" link.


The Portola Valley Schools Foundation Gala will be held Saturday, May 1, at Runnymede Farm in Woodside. For tickets at $125 each, call Stephanie Harman or Lynn McKinnon at 529-0744.

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