Friday, September 4 , 2015, 6:41 pm | Fair 74.0º




Rio Carnival Gala Celebrates Unique Spirit of Montessori Center School

Costumed guests immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere of the benefit event at Bacara Resort & Spa

Gaile Haslem, left, Nicki Parr, Yumi Bollag and Montessori Head of School Patricia Colby celebrate the school’s Rio Carnival-themed benefit gala at Bacara Resort & Spa.

Gaile Haslem, left, Nicki Parr, Yumi Bollag and Montessori Head of School Patricia Colby celebrate the school’s Rio Carnival-themed benefit gala at Bacara Resort & Spa.  (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

By Melissa Walker, Noozhawk iSociety Columnist | @NoozhawkSociety |

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from the event.]

The Bacara Resort & Spa was the scene for a unique and festive Rio Carnival-themed gala with Brazilian dancers and musicians joining costumed guests for an event benefiting Montessori Center School’s programs and financial aid.

Proud parent Crystal Jensen, whose two daughters attend preschool at MCS, shared what makes the school so special.

“It’s the philosophy of Montessori that really makes it unique,” she said. “It really allows the children to be independent thinkers and it lets them think outside the box, and it teaches them to love their work and to love to learn.”

Brightly garbed guests sipped signature cocktails at the Rio Bar with scrumptious appetizers and visited a photo booth while surveying silent auction items and enjoying visuals provided by projection artists that created a stunning light show.

Energized guests then headed into the Carnival lounge where samba dancers and the beat of Brazilian drums were joined by auctioneer and MCS parent, Paul Clay, to bid on an exciting array of live auction items, including children’s art projects, a Big Bear Lake Inspiration Point house valued at $3,000, a White Door barrel pump for filling watering cans, three days at a Rincon Beach home, premium parking at MCS, and a Club Bacara package valued at $8,600.

And it was the underlying magic of the school that brought out the positive feelings permeating throughout the room.

“What draws people to MCS really is the magic of the great teachers who have been at MCS for many years,” said Dale Haslem, Board of Trustees president. “Kids are starting out at 18 months of age on up and parents want the kids to just have a terrific start.”

A paddle raise was also held to benefit the professional development of MCS teachers and technology and casino tables benefiting MCS provided guests with $500 in “funny money” to trade for chips. Guests whose luck was dry could visit the “MCS Bank” to play more hands, and with every $10 donated gamblers received another $100 in chips.

Th evening of fundraising allows the school to provide opportunities to students that are unique in both setting and tone.

“We allow children choice and the opportunity to explore their passion so they really grow up to love to learn,” said Patricia Colby, MCS head of school. “Our Montessori school is unique in that most of our teachers have been there a very long time. In fact tonight we’re thrilled to have one of our most veteran teachers and she’s been with the school for 44 years.”

Later, the opening of delicious food stations offered guests a chance to strategize in between hands of the different games and to build the energy to join a filled dance floor.

Other fundraising opportunities during the evening included a faculty and staff raffle, a birthday banner for the week of your child’s birthday posted in a display case near the main office, and two front row tickets to the Grandparents Day Show for the best view of videos and performances.

Cyndi Miller, upper elementary head teacher, spoke about the inspiration and motivation that encompasses MCS students.

“You don’t really have to motivate them. They are motivated by the interesting things that they are working on,” Miller said. “There’s individual work, there’s group work. They are the best.”

MCS, a community of nearly 300 students and 50 staff members, was founded in 1965, and has been a nonprofit since 1972. The school is independent and affiliated with the American Montessori Society and licensed by the Department of Social Services.

The mission of MCS is to offer a Montessori education that encourages intellectual, social, physical, creative and moral development, preparing students for academic excellence, confident, lifelong learning and responsible, caring lives.

A well-rounded school curriculum includes cultural studies, language arts, mathematics and practical life and learning skills with class groupings of pre-primary, primary, lower elementary and upper elementary. MCS also offers after-school care, summer sessions and vacation child care.

MCS does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion or national origin, and applications are accepted at any time during the year. For more information, click here or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or call Alyssa Morris, director of admissions, at 805.683.9383 x104 to schedule a tour.

Montessori Center School graciously thanks the Rio Carnival sponsors:

» Sao Paulo: Muller family

» Brazilia: Stevens family and Ruddle family

» Fortaleza: Ostovany family, Pacific Wealth Strategies, Santa Barbara Children’s Dental Practice, Santa Barbara Perinatal Medical Group Inc. and the Sager family

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.




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