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Spring Gala invitations, tickets, and snappy dressing

The invitations for the May 7th Spring Gala are in the mail! The stunning invitation package (a symphony of blues and red in a clear envelope) was designed by 8th grade parent, Diana Macarthur – please look for it in your mailbox Monday. Tickets are $30 per person before April 24 and will rise to $50 on April 25.
This great early-bird pricing includes the following:

  • Entrance to the event and the ambiance of the Commander’s Mansion
  • Live 40s era Big Band music with Dan Gabel and The Abeltones
  • Dance instruction (short 15 minute swing dance lesson and showcase)
  • Delicious food from Sara’s Cooking
  • One free drink ticket (will you choose our signature cocktail?); more can be purchased at reasonable prices
  • Access to bid on silent and live auction items
  • Celebrating Brian Gellerstein, our Inaugural honoree
  • Sharing a good time with your fellow Vassal Lane Upper School community and supporters

Value: $Priceless (not bad for $30!).

Tickets are available online now – we can only sell 200 so get in early, we would hate for you to miss out. You can also pay by check using the return envelope and slip in the invitation package.

The invitation indicates that “snappy dressing is encouraged”. I took a tiny survey of what people think this means: 7th grade Mom: “I think it means something like ‘cocktail attire’ – for men a nice pair of pants and a button-down shirt and for women a nice little dress and with a cute pair of shoes”; VLUS alum: “snappy dressing sounds fancy”; 8th grader: “smart and fabulous, like the girls in those movies with the red lipstick and curled hair.”

Snappy here is merely meant to reflect the 30s and 40s music theme where people looked sharp (and snapped their fingers a lot). Wartime made a generation of thrifty people but the dance halls and jazz clubs were lively places where people strived to look their best with whatever they had available. We encourage all of you to dust off your dresses, pants and shirts and enjoy this opportunity to dress up. You may even find something delightful and era-specific (and reasonably priced) at the Garment District in Cambridge or the Buffalo Exchange in Somerville or Boston, or even Oona’s that vintage clothing institution in Harvard Square. Let your creativity flow…

See you at the door!


Brian will be honored at our Spring Gala

Brian Gellerstein, our beloved music teacher, will be the Inaugural honoree at our Spring Gala event on May 7th. Brian is one of those special teachers with the ability to touch and positively influence the lives of every student. Brian also works incredibly hard to bring our Vassal Lane community together around music and the arts. Our Spring Gala is the perfect event to honor Brian’s impact at our school – he can just enjoy the evening without having to put on the show. Please join us as we celebrate Brian’s incredible contribution to our school; he and his wife, Andrea, will be our special guests. 

I think of Brian as the glue that holds the diverse fabric of our school together. He tirelessly advocates for the importance of the arts and music in our children’s education. We all benefit when the arts and humanities feature prominently in our lives – in the words of Drew Faust, Harvard’s President, understanding of the world is enhanced through literature and arts as they “transform the heart as well as the mind”. Brian’s personal connection with each one of our students ensures the special place that music has in their hearts and minds.

brian_guitar_stand_smallThis was exemplified by last Thursday’s Chorus class. It was the first nice day and the kids wanted to go outside. Brian heartily agreed, grabbed his guitar, and led the 8th graders out to the side of the building. They gathered in their semi-circle around Brian and his music stand and sang an acoustic version of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” serenading a handful of curious onlookers. Many could wax lyrical about the pedagogical strategy of this approach to musical education but it is likely that the kids will remember how it felt to harmonize in a group with the promise of Spring in the air. Transforming hearts indeed…

Every Vassal Lane Upper School student has a special connection to Brian and a story to tell – please share your family’s stories, thoughts, and remembrances about Brian. I am collating them.

Please join us on Thursday May 7th as we honor Brian and the role he has played in creating the musical spirit that unites our Upper School on Vassal Lane.


Top 5 Reasons why you should attend our Inaugural Spring Gala

No doubt you have seen the ‘Save the Date’ flyer sent home via our trusted backpack express (May 7th 6:30-10pm, Commander’s Mansion, Watertown)! The eye-catching logo, designed by 8th grade parent Diana Macarthur, was riveting enough but the heady promise of music, dancing, food, cocktails, auction, and shared community in a majestic venue no doubt have you eagerly awaiting the formal invitation. Don’t worry – it will arrive in your mailbox very soon. 

But, perhaps you are more like our household with the sometimes sporadic delivery of important school notices… So, if this is the first time we have your attention (or you have been quietly curious) allow me to enlighten you:

  1. Music
    Dan Gabel and The Abeltones
    will have us swinging to their authentic Big Band sound from the 30s and 40s complete with vintage costuming, period equipment, and the smooth vocals of Elise Roth. Their 10-piece band will regale us with tunes from the era like “A-Tisket A-Tasket” (Chick Webb Orchestra and Ella Fitzgerald, 1937). We are hoping that our VLUS Student Orchestra will also feature.
  2. Dancing
    The Big Band music will have you toe tapping in no time. But if you have forgotten some steps or it’s a long time since the 5th grade ballroom dance festival, don’t worry – we have swing dance instruction from Ballroom in Boston! A short 15 minutes is all it will take to have you lighting up the dance floor. Don’t let the Jitterbugs stop you!
  3. Food and drinks at the Commander’s Mansion
    Sara’s Cooking
    often provides catering at our glamorous venue and their buffet stations, and served appetizers and desserts will delight. Enjoy drinks featuring locally brewed craft beer from our sponsor, Jack’s Abby of Framingham, or wine generously donated by Gordon’s Fine Wines & Liquors and Pemberton Farms. All of this in an unforgettable setting – the historic Commander’s Mansion, a 25-room beautifully appointed and festive home that overlooks the Charles River. And you don’t want to miss our 40s-inspired Signature cocktail for the evening!
  4. Live, silent, and online auction
    We have an exciting list of auction items including (but not limited to) a pair of VIP Taylor Swift concert tickets (wait, did she just say Taylor Swift?), a walk-on role in a Boston-filmed movie, sports events tickets, movie passes, a cooking lesson featuring Arabic cuisine, a tour of the local Bully Boy Distillers, an African safari, and more. Our committee has made a great start but we do need more auction items! Want to see your name in print? Consider donating a service or item or approach your employer or local business – advertising space will be provided in the online and printed catalog. Email us your suggestions! The listing of items will go live in an online auction on April 16th. Tell your friends and family who live too far away that they can bid beforehand.
  5. Our community
    Come and connect with your fellow families, teachers, and staff at this Adults Only night out (yes, a “kid-free” evening!). The Spring Gala committee is working hard to ensure we have an unforgettable evening that will be our coming-out party as we, the Vassal Lane Upper School community, commemorate our first three years. Life has not been easy for our fledgling upper school but we have always come together around the arts and music. Let’s enjoy this night as we honor and celebrate with the people who make such a difference in our children’s lives.

Don’t forget all of our fundraising benefits the students and community of our school through the Friends of Vassal Lane Upper School, Inc. Think more educational and community-building field trips, visiting musicians and authors, books and materials for the library…oh, the things we could do…

Enough reasons? Don’t worry we have a few more in store for you that will be highlighted in weekly postings. We do so look forward to greeting you at the door – early bird tickets will be very affordable.