125th Anniversary Gala: The Birthday Party of the Year!

The stars aligned on the evening of May 31 when Dwight-Englewood’s 125th Anniversary Gala took place under the big tent on Leggett Field in the heart of the D-E campus. The event was a resounding success, thanks to ideal weather and all the other elements present, including a record-breaking turnout, a sumptuous cocktail reception and dinner, dancing to a live band, the debut screening of a new D-E 125 video, the honoring of deserving, good friends, and more.

For alumni of D-E, the Englewood School for Boys, and the Dwight School, the Gala capstoned a number of mini-reunions which took place the day before and in the morning hours prior to the Saturday evening event, including a Jazz Rock concert showcasing alumni and current student performers in Schenck Auditorium, alumni vs. students lacrosse and soccer games on Graham Field, and various private parties in and around Englewood.

But it was when guests arrived to the Gala that it was clear that this event was going to be THE main event – as well as the birthday party of the year. Greeted with candle-lit red carpet treatment (and a very efficient army of photographers and valet parking attendants, provided by Abbey Photographers and Country Club Services, Inc., respectively), the more than 700 who attended the sold-out event were clearly delighted to be part of this historic gathering. Gala-goers included current and former parents, current and former faculty & staff, alumni from the classes of 1944 – 2013, former trustees along with several former presidents of the Board of Trustees, and even a former headmistress of the Bede School.

The tent was both literally and visually alive with vivid color thanks to gorgeous centerpieces of hydrangea and candlelight (created by Fort Lee-based Wildflowers), and dramatic mood-lighting from “Total Entertainment’ (Carlstadt). The event officially kicked-off with welcome remarks from Head of School Dr. Rodney De Jarnett and Board of Trustees President Dr. John Hajjar, followed by their acknowledgment of Honorary Chairs Armand Pohan ESB ’60, Joan Van Alstyne Johnson Dwight ’44 and Sandra Agemian Borg Dwight ’57. The huge crowd then came to a hush during the screening of a new D-E 125 video from critically-acclaimed LookAlike Productions, featuring narrative from Dr. De Jarnett and campus scenes as well as commentary from Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh ’84; Steve Borg ’86; Nikita Dyer ’05; Sara Ragi ’14; and English Department Chair Fred Daly.


Dwight-Englewood School’s 125th Anniversary Video


After enjoying a ‘surf and turf’ dinner catered by Food for Thought, there was a live auction with help from auctioneering expert and D-E parent Mitch Modell. The winners of the live auction included John Wilson ’51 (winner of a Mikimoto 18JKYG Pearls in Motion Necklace); Donna & Robert Linder ’79 (winners of a Modell’s Sports Package #1); James & Dana Post Adler ’85 (winners of a Nickelodeon President for the Day experience); Diana & Steven Pae (winners of a second Modell’s Sports Package); and Dr. John and Sharon Hajjar (winners of a dinner at Rao’s). The entire Gala crowd was the most excited however during the drawing of a tuition raffle grant worth $36,000, won by ecstatic D-E parents Nancy and Peter Serpico thanks to their winning ticket # 119.

Dancing was the next order of business and the floor was packed until the last hit played by live band “To The Max”(from Eastcoast Entertainment). As they left, guests were presented with special gifts including a keepsake history book edited by Karl Zimmermann ’61 and delectable, D-E 125-decorated treats from Cresskill-based Keremo Cakes.

The Gala was also successful, in terms of the monies raised from the event, including more than $25,000 from the live auction alone. Ultimately the event yielded nearly $132,000, which will be targeted at D-E’s Faculty and Staff Fund to support professional development.

Special Events Director Bea Movsesian later commented, “We could never have expected how incredible this event was going to be, but more than one year’s worth of planning and the tireless commitment from our entire Gala Committee had everything to do with its success. Words of gratitude can’t come close to expressing how sincerely grateful we are to everyone who worked to ensure that our Gala was a birthday party for the ages.”

While photos don’t do the event justice, they can certainly be enjoyed. Click on several of the images below for more specific details from the 125th Anniversary Gala evening and other events that took place that weekend. Enjoy our Gala guests photo collage as well, featuring just a few of the hundreds in attendance!

Happy Birthday, D-E!

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