COLORADO SPRINGS. The last year has been anything but normal — a year missing friends and events that bring us together. If anything, the global pandemic has highlighted the importance of community. On April 10, St. Mary’s High School will gather, albeit virtually, for its Annual Gala to honor that community.
The Virtual Gala begins at 7 p.m., and as it does each year, will include a silent and live auction, which will be livestreamed via the St. Mary’s High School YouTube channel. You can register now for the auction events at stmarys21.givesmart.com and then join us on April 10 at www.youtube.com/c/StMarysHighSchoolPirates as our community gathers to support the school.
This year St. Mary’s will honor the heroes in its community who have endured a year of separation and adaptation that no one was prepared for. The theme of the 2021 Annual Gala is “Honoring the Heroes Among Us,” which includes our students and faculty, alumni who are serving on the front lines of the pandemic, and families who have lost loved ones.
“No one in our community — in the world, actually — has gone untouched by this pandemic,” said Deacon Rob Rysavy, president of St. Mary’s High School. “Our students and faculty quickly adapted to a very different learning environment, while missing the personal touch that being together as a community brings. Many in our St. Mary’s family have lost loved ones, and our alumni are serving across the nation. Each one is a hero to the St. Mary’s family.”
After an online finish to the last academic year followed by a “hybrid” start to the current academic year, the full student body at St. Mary’s High School returned to campus on March 29, 381 days after they were last together as a full community. Raquel Krasovec, events director, said that as our lives slowly return to what feels more normal, the Gala Community thought it was fitting to reflect back on the challenges of the last year.
“The last year has been a difficult one, but we have persevered through,” she said. “The St. Mary’s community has found ways to adapt and overcome and we wanted to honor that spirit during the Gala.”
Funds raised through the Annual Gala support St. Mary’s Tuition Assistance Program, which provides financial aid to approximately one-third of St. Mary’s families. For some the pandemic has meant job loss or changes in economic conditions, making the tuition assistance program more important than ever.
“Community is one of the things that sets St. Mary’s apart,” Rysavy said. “Early in the pandemic, we promised families that no one would have to sacrifice a St. Mary’s education due to job loss or illness during the pandemic. Funds raised through the Annual Gala will help us keep that promise.”
Last year, the Gala Committee had two weeks to move from its planned in-person event to a virtual event. St. Mary’s 2020 virtual event was one of the first of its kind in the Colorado Springs community, and ranked as one of the most successful events in the school’s history. This year the committee built on what it learned last year and has planned a night of virtual fun.
“The virtual aspect allowed alumni and families in other communities to participate in the event for the first time, which was fun,” Krasovec said. “While we missed being together, our community embraced the virtual Gala last year and we hope they will do the same this year.”
(Amy G. Partain is director of communications for St. Mary’s High School.)