Sunday, August 30 , 2015, 8:20 am | Fair 76.0º




Crane Country Day School Supporters ‘Rock On’ at Gala

Crane Country Day School Headmaster Joel Weiss with former Crane School board presidents Laura Shelburne and Scott Brittingham; current president Carrie Towbes and president-elect Tom Kenny.

Crane Country Day School Headmaster Joel Weiss with former Crane School board presidents Laura Shelburne and Scott Brittingham; current president Carrie Towbes and president-elect Tom Kenny.  (Teresa Pietsch photo)

By Ann Pieramici for Crane Country Day School |

Crane Country Day School supporters rocked the night away last Saturday while raising funds for the independent K-8 school at this year’s annual gala, themed “Crane Rocks.”

The rock-'n'-roll theme was the inspiration of gala co-chairs Kisa Heyer and Laura Shelburne, a former Crane board president.

“We chose the 'Crane Rocks' theme to showcase not only Crane’s musical and performing arts history, but also the Crane community’s pride in the school,” Heyer said.

“Crane rocks on many levels,” Shelburne added. “Crane is a rock, providing an excellent foundation for our children’s educational future, and it’s also a rockin’ place in the sense that there are always stimulating things happening on campus.”

The school rocks in another category — its outstanding teachers — and one in particular was the rock star of the night. Janey Cohen, who teaches sixth-grade science and Upper School service learning, was honored because she’ll retire in June after 25 years at the school. During her tenure, Cohen has served as interim Upper School head, acting director of admission, math teacher and a Catalina trip leader.

“There is nothing that Janey can’t do,” Headmaster Joel Weiss said.

Cohen is credited with creating or co-creating many programs that are now considered hallmarks of the school, including the Families program which places students across grades into smaller school families, composting, Upper School seminar, and the seventh-grade QED, an academic pursuits initiative that partners students with community mentors.

“More than anyone, when Janey leaves our school she will still be present because her thumbprints are all over the campus,” Weiss said.

Cohen graciously addressed the crowd after a video tribute aired heartwarming messages from students, staff and parents. She thanked her family, with special appreciation to her 86-year-old dad and “my two favorite Crane alumni, my children Christopher ’97 and Katie ’01,” all of whom attended the gala. Cohen said she has loved coming to work every day and that her career allowed her to become the lifelong learner she hopes all Crane students will be.

Crane Rocks
Crane parents Jim and Mary Morouse channel their inner rock stars. (Teresa Pietsch photo)

A paddle raise in Cohen’s honor benefited the school’s Community Service Learning endowment. Money was also raised to offset the school’s operating budget through live, silent and online auctions, as well as a raffle offering an exquisite agate and citrine “rock” donated by Silverhorn Jewelers.

Needless to say, that wasn’t the only “rock” in attendance. Crane dad Palmer Jackson unleashed his inner rocker, embodying Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Neil Young while serving as emcee and auctioneer. A talented musician, Jackson spoofed several classic rock songs personalizing them to the school.

There was a lot of rock royalty in the house, including some of the more than 200 attendees dressed as Bono, Kiss, Ozzy, Mick and Madonna. After four years at off-site locations, the school was the host for the event with the soccer field transformed into a stage and the campus, with its mountainous backdrop and spacious fields, a veritable rock venue. Music was clearly the focal point of the evening.

A variety of musical eras were represented, including contemporary songs by the Crane Chorus, which were sung in tribute to renowned lyricist Norman Gimbel, now a Crane grandparent. There were also solo performances by seventh-grade standout Alexander Fell, alumni siblings Allie Towbes‘10 and Zac Towbes ‘13, Melanie Thomas ’07 and surprise guest alumna star Jessie Bridges ’97. Bands included The Hollywood Stones, a Rolling Stones cover band from Los Angeles and King Bee, a local band featuring Crane’s own Joel Jamison.

In addition to Kisa Heyer and Laura Shelburne, there were many Hall of Famers behind the stage who made the event possible: Rachael Stein (live auction), Kelly Bilek and Jen Abed (silent auction), Amanda Masters (décor), Mary Morouse (volunteer coordinator), Sharon Hughes and Meg Purdy (raffle) and Crane’s development team: Debbie Williams, Rhoda Lauten and Katie Berry.

Top sponsors included Leslie and Robert Zemeckis, Ella and Scott Brittingham, Randi and Terry Cunningham, Noelle and Dick Wolf, Gay and Tony Browne, Elizabeth and Lee Gabler, Lisa and George Hagerman, Laura and Craig Shelburne, Robin and Bob Fell, Erin and Greg Gavasse, Mary and Jim Morouse, Kathy and Allan Rogers, and Carrie Towbes and John Lewis.

For more information about Crane Country Day School, click here or call 805.695.0536.

— Ann Pieramici is a publicist representing Crane Country Day School.

Crane rocks
Retiring teacher Janey Cohen, second from right, with colleagues Traci Cope, Theresa Gorey and Lori Moore. (Teresa Pietsch photo)




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