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Annual fundraiser helps private school maintain budget
by Garrett Valenzuela
Feb 06, 2014 | 1856 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Excel Christian School officials, shown here during the ceremonial groundbreaking  of the new elementary school in Sparks, will be busy putting the finishing touches on its annual fundraiser Saturday at the Peppermill. The event features live and silent auctions which school officials said make up a major portion of the operating budget for the school.
Excel Christian School officials, shown here during the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new elementary school in Sparks, will be busy putting the finishing touches on its annual fundraiser Saturday at the Peppermill. The event features live and silent auctions which school officials said make up a major portion of the operating budget for the school.
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Administrators at Excel Christian School are gearing up this week for the school’s biggest fundraiser of the year, which invites the public to attend a dinner at the Peppermill Hotel and Casino in Reno as part of spreading the school’s message and building on its foundation in Sparks.

Vice Principal Kristopher Dahir said Wednesday that the annual dinner and auction provides a significant amount of the budget for Excel’s yearly operation, and because the school gets no government funding, Dahir said the money is used largely to keep its renovated facility in good condition.

“A lot of that money is going to help maintain the building we renovated that used to be the YMCA,” Dahir said in reference to the facility on Baring Boulevard. “It needed some care and love and I don’t think anyone would question that. We have had to come in and fix some things that you would not dream of having to fix to make this into a school.

“Everything from adding a playground to support more elementary students, to fixing an internet problem, to everyone walking around with a smartphone. We have a lot of finances that come at us, and this auction helps cover things that are needed or need constant maintenance and upgrading.”

The annual fundraiser begins at 6 p.m. Saturday and features live and silent auctions, professional photographs, live entertainment and more. Dahir said the public is invited to attend at $60 per person or $400 per table through online or phone registration. About 250 people have already signed up for the event and Dahir said the funds from the auctions help keep tuition costs low for families.

“We are not at the levels of some of the other private schools in town,” he said. “We are actually almost half and we try to stay there as much as we can. We don’t mind increasing some, and as the years go we might need to, but we definitely try to make where it isn’t just the wealthy kids who come here. We would like middle class and wealthy families to come here and we want to try to walk with them during their students' time in our school.”

Vickie Etchart, office administrator at Excel, said most of the major auction items had been received as of Wednesday, the top prize being a VIP package from the Reno Aces. The prize includes a VIP meet-and-greet with new manager Phil Nevin, on-field access during pregame ceremonies, eight seats to the game and a personal lithograph signed and autographed by former manager Brett Butler. Other prizes include high-dollar seats to a San Francisco Giants game in June, tickets to see Jeff Dunham at the Reno Events Center in March and a timeshare vacation package worth about $2,000.

Although most students do not attend the fundraiser, Etchart said many of them have been active, selling raffle tickets for a Southwest Airlines travel reimbursement and helping to organize the event.

“The kids have really been out selling the raffle tickets at $20 each and it has been a popular prize to win in the past,” Etchart said. “Many of the seniors who have free periods throughout the day will also help get things loaded and ready to take downtown.

“We also have a lot of help from our regular (after school) care staff, who will be able to feed and entertain children here at the school on the night of the fundraiser. That gives the parents a little more flexibility and it also helps the children have something to do on Saturday.”

Dahir said this will be the first winter fundraiser since the merger with Legacy Christian School, which helped boost numbers at Excel and prompted the construction of a new elementary school in 2013. Dahir said the school’s progress in population, education, sports and overall awareness have contributed to feeling at home in Sparks.

“Four years ago, there was maybe a few people who knew what Excel was and what Excel did,” Dahir said. “Most people would hear the name and wonder who we are. I think now most everybody has heard of Excel and has an idea what we are all about. We serve in the community all over and now, even though we have always done it, people can recognize it and know who we are.

“We open our doors for the community to come in and we have hundreds of people coming in here every night who are not part of our school. All of that stuff has given us a bigger footprint where people can see that we are strong and existing in the city. It’s good and it has been fun to watch.”

For more information about Excel Christian School’s annual fundraiser on Saturday, visit www.excelchristianschool.com or call 356-9995.
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