As the clock inched closer to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 25, anticipation was in the air. Xaverian’s first-ever virtual gala, EXTRAORDINARY, was set to go live from two ready-made studios in the X-Ploration Center and the computer classroom abutting it. More than 670 families had registered for this event, which had been months in the making. After countless hours of planning, filming, editing, and rehearsals, showtime had arrived.
Hosts, Dr. Jacob Conca ’94, Head of School, and Dr. Michael Nicholson, Principal, guided the virtual crowd through the events of the night, while Dr. Christopher Vasta ’00, Chief Administrator for School Advancement, manned the virtual chat. He caught up with alumni and their families, current parents, friends of the school, and even fielded some dry quips from former headmaster, Brother Daniel Skala, C.F.X. It was a night reminiscent of pre-COVID times, where laughter was easy and the heartbeat of the Xaverian community was on full display.
The program continued with the announcement of the 2021 Gala Honorees, Xaverian’s very own faculty and staff. Dr. Nicholson gave a heartwarming tribute to the honorees, noting, “Since March of last year, they have truly gone above and beyond for our young men... In these extraordinary times, they have gone to extraordinary lengths, showed extraordinary effort, and exhibited extraordinary compassion.”
As a token of appreciation, each honoree received a custom engraved wooden plaque which was crafted in the X-Ploration Center by students and the Center’s director, Mr. Ryan Howard. Students wrote their own thank you message on the back, which read:
Thank you for shaping your students into outstanding young adults, for being there
for your students’ every need, and for working hard and pushing forward for the
sake of your students’ success. You are the foundation of many of their lives.
Xaverian is blessed to have such an amazing faculty and staff. From coaches,
to mentors, to friends, your constant efforts this year, and every year, have allowed
Xaverian to face the impossible and conquer it. As students, families, and administrators,
we all want to thank you for your efforts and unwavering support. Know that you are
appreciated in this community. May God bless you always!
Along with celebrating the honorees, each year the Gala raises money for a specific cause during the Fund our Future portion of the event. This year, proceeds supported student scholarship. Attendees were able to learn more about freshman Justin Fannon, one of hundreds of students who depend upon scholarship to receive a Xaverian education. Justin’s family has been connected closely to Xaverian over several generations, starting with his grandfather, Ed Fannon, a graduate of the Class of 1967, who passed away in 2013. Attendees drove along with Justin on his commute to school, heard him open up about the challenges he has faced, and witnessed firsthand the grit, determination, and hard work he has put into becoming an honor’s student at Xaverian. (>>click here to watch Justin’s Story
When the event went virtual, so too did the silent auction, the sale of coveted mystery boxes, and the cash raffle tickets. This year was a true success; 169 mystery boxes were purchased, 847 individuals bought raffle tickets, and in an extremely heartwarming gesture, members of Justin’s grandfather’s graduating class, the Class of 1967, made a $30,000 challenge gift in honor of their classmate. They were joined by members of the ‘68 and ‘69 football teams. The raffle winners were drawn at the end of the night.
As Justin so eloquently put it in his interview, “Kids can’t control what they are brought into.” That said, every young man deserves the chance to receive the warm embrace of the Xaverian community, the endless support of the teachers, and every opportunity for success. At Xaverian, you’ll often hear the phrase, “In Harmony Small Things Grow.” Just like Justin's hope to be able to pay it forward one day, we hope that one gift begets another, culminating in generations of steadfast support.