Saturday, February 24, 2024

CSF Island Paradise Gala & Tiki Club Raises Record-Breaking Amount for Coronado’s Public Schools

Photo by Kel Casey (Courtesy of Coronado Schools Foundation)

With tropical drums, hula dancers and a picturesque backdrop, the Coronado Schools Foundation’s Island Paradise: Luau on the Lawn, held at the Hotel del Coronado on Saturday, October 28th, was a real-lei good time! Presented by Donna Salof for the seventh year in a row, the adults wore their tropical best to raise money for the kids, with proceeds benefitting Coronado’s public schools through CSF. Guests generously raised their paddles for a record night of fundraising, bringing in over $495,373 for STEM and Arts learning opportunities!

“We are truly honored by the generosity of our community,” said Michelle Gilmore, President & CEO of CSF. “It was such an amazing evening, watching business owners, parents, alumni, and community members support our Coronado students, bringing in a record amount of funds raised.”

Photo by Kel Casey (Courtesy of Coronado Schools Foundation)

Guests were welcomed to the Luau on the Lawn with a welcome cocktail; followed by a fabulous three-course tropical meal and collection of wines, as guests enjoyed a luau show complete with dancers and drums.

This year’s Live Auction portion of evening featured amazing tropical trips and unique experiences, all to generate funds to support teacher wish lists at all four schools. Christine Johnson spoke on the generous art donations from The Wyland Foundation, before two gorgeous pieces were auctioned off.

After the Live Auction, Kai-Lee Berke was called to stage to tell the story of her son Abraham, a senior at CHS who is already doing great things after his love for STEM was first discovered in the CMS iLab. Abraham is currently a Research Assistant at a Photonics Lab at UCSD Center for Advanced Nanoscience, working with a nuclear scientist at UCLA, helping prototype a UAV system for a startup in Silicon Valley and is about to be published as co-author on his first research paper.

“The teachers who inspired and encouraged him, the access to advanced coursework that exposed him to complex and sophisticated concepts, and the hands-on materials he used to be able to put that learning into practice through research, construction, and experimentation…all of those things were funded by Coronado Schools Foundation,” said Berke. “Our family is immensely grateful for the life-changing opportunities that CSF has provided for our son.”

The evening then went on to the Raise Your Paddle portion of the evening, which brought in over $150,000 to fund classes like iLABs at all four campuses. Innovation Labs (iLabs) provide all students a place to create, collaborate and discover through technology, coding, art and more!

Photo by Kel Casey (Courtesy of Coronado Schools Foundation)

After dinner, guests moved into the Southpointe Ballroom for the Tiki Club, where guests danced to island beats, enjoyed a specialty cocktail, and sampled tropical inspired appetizers and desserts. Guests then took to the dance floor, learning how to hula and warrior dance from professional dancers.

The fun didn’t stop there! Guests enjoyed a 360-photo booth, a Tiki Tasting, island-style games, a Wine Wall, plus an exciting Silent Auction!

The Annual Online Auction included packages and donations from generous local businesses and vendors. One of the top items this year was a stay at The Shorehouse at the Hotel Del. The bidding was fierce, with the Online Auction bringing in close to $50,000.

The night would not have been possible without generous sponsors and donors and the fabulous support of Harold Rapoza, President & GM, Hotel del Coronado and the Del Team.

CSF would also like to thank the amazing group of volunteers who helped make the event such a success! To support local public schools through the Coronado Schools Foundation, please visit or call Ashley DeGree, Director of Development, at 619-437-8059, ext. 1. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.

Coronado Schools Foundation
Coronado Schools Foundation
Through community involvement and support, Coronado Schools Foundation raises and manages funds to provide exceptional learning experiences for all Coronado Unified School District students. Coronado Schools Foundation envisions a public school community that provides students an opportunity to learn, thrive and reach their highest potential today and into their future.

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