Northern Stars brings in big money for students

The 19th annual Northern Stars Celebration Oct. 5 raised $37,000 for the Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation.

About 215 guests poured into the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Park for this “party with a purpose,” the foundation’s biggest fundraiser.

The Coon Rapids High School Fiddle Group plays “Los Golondrinas (The Swallows),” a traditional Mexican mariachi tune at the Northern Stars Celebration Oct. 5. Photo by Olivia Koester

The Coon Rapids High School Fiddle Group plays “Los Golondrinas (The Swallows),” a traditional Mexican mariachi tune at the Northern Stars Celebration Oct. 5. Photo by Olivia Koester

Attendees had an array of donated silent and live auction items on which to bid, everything from a mini-fridge to Adam Sandler movie basket, theater tickets to a trip to Chicago.

The big ticket item of the evening was, as anticipated, the Field of Dreams package. Valued at more than $2,500, the package included two home plate tickets to the 2014 All Star Game at Target Field in 2014, as well as tickets to the All Star Fan Fest at the Minneapolis Convention Center, commemorative programs and more.

A bidding war between Blaine High School Principal John Phelps and Associate Superintendent for Middle Schools Jinger Gustafson ensued.

The crowd went wild as Auctioneer Tony Elfelt egged on the two administrators. “You know what teachers say about quitters,” he said.

Gustafson emerged the winner, securing the package for $3,000.

“This was a bucket-list item,” said Gustafson, a longtime Twins fan.

Before the giving moment, a solicitation for direct donations, students spoke about how support from the Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation helped them gain confidence and new skills.

Guests claim their winnings from the Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation Northern Stars Celebration auctions. The foundation raised $37,000 for students in the district. Photo by Olivia Koester

Guests claim their winnings from the Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation Northern Stars Celebration auctions. The foundation raised $37,000 for students in the district. Photo by Olivia Koester

High school students Michael Webster, Sophia Brown and Ilish Atwood, as well as preschooler Ashlynn Crosbie, took the stage to thank those in attendance for gifts which allowed them to experience Honors Orchestra; Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programming; and preschool.

This year’s giving moment aimed to raise funds for talent development programs. Guests donated more than $5,300.

Coon Rapids High School students provided the evening’s entertainment, performing everything from traditional folk tunes to more contemporary Coldplay and Sara Bareilles songs.

The Northern Stars Celebration is the foundation’s largest fundraiser each year. But $37,000 exceeded expectations.

“This is the most raised at the Northern Stars Celebration in five years and it reflects our community’s depth of commitment and generosity to our students and schools,” said Tess DeGeest, executive director of the Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation.

Olivia Koester is at olivia.koester@ecm-inc.com

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