After making the difficult decision to cancel the traditional in-person OES Auction, the auction planning committee jumped into action to create a virtual auction that proved a huge success.
To pull it all off, the committee called on The AV Department, a local live event audiovisual and media production company.
In less than 24 hours, EC3's state-of-the-art "MOVE" space was transformed into a full-scale broadcast studio. By afternoon, the room was barely recognizable with a full-sized audiovisual studio set amongst the usual theater costumes and woodworking materials.
"The EC3 space became a perfect stage and the Development team did an amazing job using our auction decor to set the feel," Auction Chair Jaime Sales said. "It was an emotional thing to see on Saturday when I walked into the finished space."
Pete Buonincontro, theater and performing arts teacher and assistant director of residential life, was a hilarious and uplifting emcee, and Johnna Wells tag-teamed as auctioneer. Scot Crandal, husband of Marketing & Communications Director Karen Crandal, gently played jazzy music on the piano in the background.
In the end, through the silent online auction, the livestream, and the paddle raise, the 2020 OES Auction topped $600,000. "We're letting the dust settle in terms of total dollars raised, but whatever the final number, the OES community showed up in a big way," said Madeline Pruett, director of development.
“The one group I really want to thank is the group who actually inspired our team these last couple of weeks and with the term resiliency in mind, those are the people we're here for tonight—our kids,” Sales said in her concluding speech. “The last few weeks have thrown all of us for a loop, but [our kids and teachers] are going to remote learning and they are handling it with poise and grace.”
The auction contributes to our Annual Giving program along with the OES Fund which makes up five percent of the school's annual operating budget. The auction supports everything from flexible tuition to student groups.
“My favorite part of this year's auction was the student artwork that was donated by OES seniors,” said Annual Giving Manager Mary Beth Muscarella. “Not only does it show exceptional talent but it speaks volumes for the programs we have at OES.”
Small watch parties were scattered throughout the city, in homes and elsewhere. Some community members even dressed in the requisite "black-tie" while watching from hotel rooms.
"The overwhelming response was that people loved being in the comfort of their own homes or with small groups of friends to watch and bid," Sales said. "I received a lot of photos of people with their formal gowns and tuxes . . . and their slippers! It was also fun to see that families, including the kids, could get excited and be a part of it."
Thank you to Jaime Sales and the auction planning committee, The AV Department, everyone who donated auction items, everyone who raised their virtual paddles and bid on items, and especially our students—we do it all for them.