Our community came together in full force this year for the largest and most dazzling Spring Benefit in our history! The setting was a New York landmark — the Ziegfeld Ballroom — which was a fitting venue in which to honor Chancellor Stephen Spahn for his visionary leadership and celebrate his milestone 50th anniversary in education ... and celebrate we did!
We raised a glass to the man who has impacted the lives of countless Dwight students and graduates, igniting their sparks of genius and personalizing a roadmap to their success. We toasted him, his inspiring vision for the future of education, and each other as members of the Dwight family — old and new.
Planning an event this big takes a village! Thanks go to The Dwight School Foundation's Spring Benefit Chairs Hayley Foster (Jared '18) and Jessica Lindsey (David '18, Maggie '19, JackieRay '21), and all the volunteers who worked since last fall for their tireless commitment, creativity, and energy.
Take a look back at this special evening by scrolling through our photo album:
Following the cocktail reception, a silent auction, and a walk down Dwight memory lane in photos from the last 50 years through our time capsule, the evening's sit-down program began.
Here's what was in store:
Students and Alums Honor Chancellor Spahn
Igniting the spark of genius in every child has always been, and will always be, Chancellor Spahn's driving force, so we turned to students and alumni for their tributes in words, song, and art:
Bernardo Sequeira '22 shared his experience meeting Chancellor Spahn upon arriving in a new country and at a new school — and just how far he has come today.
Here is an excerpt:
"There are students who have been at Dwight for over a decade, and there are students who have been at Dwight for only months. And yet, speaking on behalf of all students, Chancellor Spahn has made such an enormous impact on our lives with his relentless sense of vision. And all that I can say to that is 'thank you'."
Jada Morgan '18 — a member of Dwight's "13-Year Club." who began her journey here in Kindergarten — took us back to an early collaboration undertaken with Chancellor Spahn and forward to the lasting impact that he will have on her life.
Jada's heartfelt appreciation was evident in her concluding words:
"Chancellor Spahn, so many people have thanked you over the years for so many things. Were I to try to do the same, I simply would not know where to begin, however I do know where to end. In seven short weeks, I will leave Dwight, but know that I will never leave you nor the impact that you and Dwight have had on my life, which has not only helped shape me into the student and the woman that I am now, but will continue, I know, to drive me forward with ambition, skill, and the never-ending desire to keep my spark of genius lit for years to come."
Colleen Barry '99, a gifted and acclaimed professional artist, who painted Chancellor Spahn's portrait in honor of his 50th anniversary, shared her memories of his support during her days at Dwight and what inspired her rendering in this video.
Colleen tells us:
"I knew right away what the pose was going to be: straight on, eyes linked. This pose represents his philosophy in life, which is looking forward to the future ... this optimism of looking ahead."
Abigail Arader '18, whose heartfelt and beautiful rendition of the Broadway classic "For Good," reflected the feelings of so many people in the room through these lyrics:
I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them. And we help them in return. Well, I don't know if I believe that's true, but I know I'm who I am today because I knew you. ... But because I knew you, I have been changed for good.
Special guest Helen Rosenthal, New York City Council Member of the 6th District, surprised Chancellor Spahn with a proclamation lauding him for "his incredible and enduring contributions ... not merely for the length of his distinguished tenure, but the tremendously positive impact he has had on the lives of countless students, alumni and colleagues throughout our City and beyond ..."
Following in kind, Susan Kessler, Chair of the Board of The Dwight School Foundation, presented Chancellor Spahn with a proclamation from Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President, declaring April 13, 2018, as "Stephen Spahn Appreciation Day."
A Spirited Auction
After brisk bidding in a live auction of fabulous items, ranging from trips to one-of-a-kind experiences right here in New York, the time had come to dim the lights.
All eyes were on a video introducing an exciting new initiative to integrate the incubator skills that Spark Tank participants acquire into the IB curriculum, so that ALL students can learn entrepreneurial and life skills to thrive in today's world.
As the lights came back up, generous pledges came in supporting the new ground-breaking program envisioned by Chancellor Spahn, raising more money than any previous Spring Benefit!
Dinner and Dancing
Following a delicious meal and lots of good cheer, it was time for the DJ to get everyone up and dancing. With 600 members of the Dwight community in the house, you know the "joint was jumpin'!"
Words to Remember
"Ultimately, my greatest legacy be will your children's stories and all the students who become heroes of their own journey. My story will be the collection of all of their stories."
– Chancellor Stephen Spahn