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10th annual scholarship fundraiser

Taylor Eisenman, of the Record staff

The Colby School has come a long way from its first fundraiser, which, according to one of the school’s founders, Betsy Bacon, included about 10 people in a room with a table of donated food.

This past Saturday, Colby celebrated its 10th anniversary with "Visions & Dreams" at the Stein Eriksen Lodge. It was an elegant evening to benefit the school’s scholarship students.

The night began with floating appetizers and an open bar, continued with a delightful meal, eloquent speeches, an auction emceed by Marc Raymond of Marc Raymond Salon & Spas, and dancing to the funky musical styling of Soul Patrol.

Fundraisers like this one make it possible for Colby, a nonprofit entity, to offer financial aid. "This is what sets Colby apart," Dr. Amy Fehlberg, the school’s director, said. "Because we have one-third of our students receiving financial aid, it creates a wonderfully diverse community."

It is a community with plenty of support as well. Not only were parents of Colby School children there, but several representatives of local companies also attended the event.

"It is a really fun evening," Brenda Moss, whose son, Nick, is in kindergarten at Colby, said. "We love the school and its philosophies and are just here to support the scholarship program."

Tina Turner, a mother of four, who has two children at Colby and two children in public school, said that her sixth-grader Cheyenne and fourth-grader Karli have flourished at Colby, and that things like this scholarship fundraiser are great because they give all kids the chance to benefit from the school.

"My fourth-grader, Karli, wasn’t being challenged enough in public school and was getting into trouble, but now she’s flourishing," Turner said. "The Colby School teaches that everybody has talents."

The school’s beginnings stemmed from a need for something that public schools weren’t offering.

"We were just public school teachers that saw a need," Bacon said.

"I taught in public schools for over 20 years, and Park City’s public schools are fabulous, but not every school fits every kid, and not every teacher fits every school."

"We spent years trying to challenge things," another founder, Teri Wiss, said. "It just didn’t seem like there was any room for hearing what teachers thought should be done."

Getting The Colby School off the ground took a lot of gumption and guts. "We had to hawk everything we owned, which as teachers wasn’t much," Wiss said.

"We left tenures and secure environments to start this," Bacon said, "We left for kids and teachers that just didn’t fit into the public school system."

In September 1998, The Colby School began with eight teachers, 19 students and an inclusive mission. "We wanted kids from all walks of life, all religions and ethnicities, with different physical and mental talents," Bacon said. "We wanted to mirror society as best we could."

The philosophies that inspired the program 10 years ago remain the same today. "It’s about taking kids and creating future leaders that come from a variety of different backgrounds and perspectives," Fehlberg said.

Ellie Goldberg, Colby’s administration manager, said the fundraiser was a success. It raised more than $100,000, and got the school’s message across that it was raising money for these kids who need it.

The school allocates financial aid and tuition reduction on a case-by-case basis depending upon financial need. Fehlberg said that vouchers could make a huge difference for families.

For example, she said that if a student qualifies for the lowest tuition cost of $4,500, which is the cost for one year of preschool, and then that student also qualifies for the maximum voucher of $3,000, the family will only have $1,500 to pay, which can be spread out over 10 months.

"It’s one more way of giving families a choice and giving kids a choice," Fehlberg said.

"Vouchers are not about the money," Bacon said. "It’s about the kids."

And helping less-fortunate kids attend The Colby School was what Saturday’s scholarship fundraiser was all about.


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