Dream Flight Gala Raises Record Amount for Current and Future Pilots
Alumni, parents and friends of Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School gathered at the Claremont Country Club in Oakland on October 13, 2018 to raise vital funds for tuition assistance at SJND’s Fourth Annual Dream Flight Gala. Thanks to their generous support, the event raised over $115,000 to help fund the dreams of current and future Pilots.
The elegant October evening included music by alumni jazz band The Suggestions, featuring David Dupart ’03, Chris Massoud ’02, Akili Peyton ’02 and Jaime Guzman ’06, who set the mood while guests enjoyed a sunset cocktail hour on an outdoor terrace. Guests were then treated to a special performance by SJND student vocal group One Voice. The 40 students moved guests with a beautiful rendition of “Let It Be” followed by an upbeat song from Sister Act.
The dinner program included entertainment from MCs Mike Pola ’82 - in his fourth year hosting the event - and newcomer Harrison Wilkes ’03, who delighted the crowd with commentary on their generational differences and fondest SJND memories. Mike and Harrison then welcomed to the podium Breeanna Decker ’10, the 2018 Dream Flight Keynote Alumna Speaker.
Breeanna, the Opportunity Youth Initiative Program Associate at Oakland-based non-profit Urban Strategies Council, spoke of growing up in the same Oakland neighborhood her mother was raised in, and how education served as her escape.
Breeanna Decker '10 speaks at Dream Flight.
“I have always felt as though I lived two parallel but complimentary lifestyles which includes growing up in Oakland and traveling to my schools, which were either in more affluent parts of Oakland or in other cities. A normal life and an extraordinary life. My normal life was what I witnessed going on in my neighborhood. My extraordinary life is what I experienced outside of my neighborhood. Honestly, I thought I was the Black Matilda, just the Oakland version,” she joked.
“Raised in a single parent household, I learned quickly the importance of hard work, sacrifice, strategy, and resilience. Sacrifice, I learned firsthand as I watched my mom use our only household income to make sure I attended some of the best private Catholic schools...I truly believe that a major part of the blessing and plans that God has prepared for me is using my education and lived experience to draw similarities between the two parallel lifestyles I live and both advocate and create the space for more youth growing up in similar conditions: to feel inspired by their lived experiences, to be the change and make the changes they want to see in their communities and the world.”
Breeanna would go on to complete her undergraduate studies amongst the Jesuit community at Santa Clara University, where she formed a passion for education, social justice and serving others. During her time as an undergraduate and graduate school student, Breeanna worked with various community organizations and leaders throughout the Bay Area, before landing on her current role at Urban Strategies Council. Here, she supports Opportunity Youth (ages 18-24) in the East Bay in their transition to post-secondary education and careers.
“SJND challenged me to see that there is more that unites us than lived experiences. I gained so many different perspectives on cultures, traditions, and education that I know I could not have received anywhere but SJND. My time at SJND enhanced my ability to juxtapose my lived experience with my education and to fight for equity, particularly in how we care for youth and young adults in this country...My personal experience of receiving a quality education provided by SJND is what drives me, because every child, whether attending public or private school, should be guaranteed a quality education, regardless of where he/she lives.”
Following Breeanna’s powerful speech, current student and ASB representative Nikko Mendez ’19 told the audience of his family’s unique story and his experience at SJND, which would later help provide him his “bridge to the world.”
“One thing I have discovered through my years at SJND, is that I am not learning just to graduate, I am learning for the sake of change within myself, and for the future of the world,” Nikko explained. “Originally, I thought, middle school, check. High school, check. College, check. Job, married, kids, death, heaven. Like, is that it?" he laughed. At SJND, I gained a new perspective, a new lens for my education, a new lens for discipline, and most importantly, a new lens for my community. I see the community of SJND as a miniaturized world, all of us coming from different childhood experiences and cultural backgrounds, from different cities. The entire world and SJND are not so different at all, and we are all individuals brought together with a goal to do one thing: make an impact.”
Nikko Mendez '19 poses with classmates at Dream Flight.
Following both speeches, donors raised their paddles in support of the 60+ percent of SJND students who receive financial assistance so that they may obtain an excellent SJND college preparatory education.
The evening concluded with honoring the 2018 recipient of the Christi Matri Award for outstanding service to SJND, a true angel in the SJND community, alumna Kerry O’Hara ’70 Plain. Board of Trustees Vice-Chair Rich Davis joined former classmate and longtime friend of Kerry’s Cynthia Rankin ’70 Seibert, who both discussed Kerry’s enormous heart and giving spirit, and presented her with the award.
Kerry O'Hara '70 Plain poses for a photo with sisters Maureen '68 and Patricia '67 O'Hara.
Thank you to all who attended and supported the 2018 Dream Flight Tuition Assistance Gala, and to our 2018 Dream Flight Sponsors, without whom the evening could not have been such a success:
The Kelly Family
Dan Carroll '64
Bruns Grayson '65
Rob and Stephanie Doud
James Lee '64
Harold '59 and Janet Boscovich
Shamrock Office Solutions
Bladium Sports & Fitness Club
William '94 and Kelly Demar
Brian McDonald '70 and The Capy Bar
Paul Stier '76
View the Dream Flight Photo Album Here.