Monday Notes from Head of School, 1/13

"Excellence is not a skill, it is an attitude." - Ralph Marston

Dear Families,

Our Gala is one of the most important events of the year. Not only because of the money we raise that supports students, faculty, and programs - but because it's one of our touchpoints to be together and to recognize what an incredible school and community we are. There are so many facets of our school that have built our rich history and that continue to propel us into the future with vision. This year, we are recognizing three very important aspects of our community and I am pleased to be able to share them with you today.

The first of which is the return of the Gail Gordon Kocen Volunteer of the Year Award. This Award is given through nominations from our community. Gail Kocen was a pillar of our school community for almost two decades, serving as a very involved parent who drove carpool and baked cookies for sales, to Parents Association President, Board of Trustees member and President, major donor, and so much more. She embodied the spirit of what volunteerism was and is - taking every opportunity, both small and large, to make a difference in the lives of her own children, their friends and classmates, the faculty and staff that support them, and our whole community. We are so fortunate to have many volunteers like Gail in our midst, and we continue to stand on the shoulders of those who came before us so that we can continue to do all the things we do at Palm Valley School. Whether you are inspired by our volunteers in the classroom or on the field, the stage or in the yard - it's clear they are the backbone of our school. This is a great way to recognize those efforts, small and large, with a nomination. Please take a moment to consider who inspires you with their volunteer efforts, and nominate someone for this award today! The winner will be notified before the Gala, and receives two free tickets to attend (with a guest) if they aren't already attending, and will be recognized and announced at that event. Nominations can be made here.

Secondly, we are implementing a new award this year to recognize a shooting star that has long been legend and lore at Palm Valley School with a "Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award." Mr. Ken Sarkis has inspired 100s if not 1000s of students in his time at Palm Valley School, and he recently announced his plan to retire at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. You can read his letter here. We know that Mr. Sarkis needs no recognition to do what he does, but we would be remiss if we did not take every opportunity to honor his remaining time here. I can think of no one more qualified to receive an award of a life dedicated to the stage, to students developing theatrical talents, and to putting on world-class productions with middle and upper school aged actors. Please join us at the 2020 Gala to honor Mr. Ken Sarkis and his legacy with the "Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award."

Lastly, we know how important our Alumni are to our ongoing school community. Additionally, many alumni credit their time at Palm Valley School with the foundation for the success that they have in their adult lives and career paths. We couldn't agree more! This year, we are instituting a new "Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award" and the recipient is Mr. Phillip K. Smith, III (Class of 1991). You may know Mr. Smith's work from Desert X or other incredible art installations around the world. He is a world-renowned artist specializing in light-based work and large-scale sculptures. Phillip attended Palm Valley School from 1st to 12th grade. Trained as an architect at the Rhode Island School of Design, Smith incorporates the site-specificity of architecture, with its reliance on scale, and its capacity to physically impact the human interaction it supports, to create immersive viewing experiences. Recent projects include The Circle of Land and Sky (2017), part of the inaugural Desert X, the critically acclaimed Coachella Valley desert-wide, site-specific exhibition; Open Sky (2018), commissioned by Scandinavian fashion house COS for Italy's Salone del Mobile, Milan; and Detroit Skybridge (2018), a 100 foot long LED installation commissioned as part of Detroit's Library Street Collective city-wide revitalization effort. Phil and his wife, Lisa, will be in attendance to receive this honor and commendation! Please join us to celebrate him and his work.

We only have a few tickets left for this annual event that will now recognize some of our best and brightest. Please consider buying a ticket or table today - you can buy them online here, or by calling our offices at 760-328-0861 and speaking to Andrea Turner, our Development Associate.

Have a great week and we hope to see you soon!

Susan Rice
Head of School