Published in the November 2, 2017 edition

BATCHELDER SCHOOL Principal Sean Killeen gives an enthusiastic thumbs up upon learning that the 2017 Auction of the Batchelder Parents’ Organization was the most successful ever, raising $51,191 for student enrichment activities and equipment. (Al Pereira/Advanced Photo)


NORTH READING — Eights months of planning and pounding the pavement to assemble donations of over 100 silent auction items and 30 live auction items paid huge dividends for the Batchelder Parents’ Organization and its 2017 Auction Committee.

The end result following last month’s sold-out standing-room only event attended by over 300 guests was a donation totaling $51,191.70 to the Batchelder School. That’s not a typo – these volunteers raised over 50 grand in one night.

“This was billed as the ‘Party of the Century’ and it did not disappoint,” an elated Nicole Gamer told the Transcript. She serves as the president of the Batchelder Parents’ Organization (BPO). “Without question, it was a historic event in both attendance and funds raised,” she said.

The last time the BPO held an auction was 2015 when an impressive $30,000 was raised. The stakes were raised for the 2017 event as it was held in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the Leland Dennis Batchelder School. The town’s first centralized school, it opened in 1917 for grades 1 through 9, replacing several one-room school houses in town. Until the late 1950s, when the town opened its first junior/senior high school, North Reading students attended grades 10 through 12 as members of Reading High School.

“Our mission as the BPO is to enhance the students’ experience. These funds will be carried over for two-plus years and allow for more enrichment programs, additional technology to be purchased and upgrades to be made. It will also allow for more enrichment in the area of music and the arts, and provide Principal Sean Killeen with the opportunity to work with his teachers and staff on ‘wish list items,’” Gamer said.

THE 2017 Batchelder Auction Committee spent eight months organizing the most successful live and silent auction ever – raising over $51,000 – to benefit BPO initiatives for the students. Committee members celebrating at the event were, front row, from left: BPO President Nicole Gamer, Amber O’Driscoll, Christine Newberry, Auction Committee Chairwoman Karen Casey and Buffy Rymill; back row, from left: Joyce Wells, Melissa Ehrenthal, Nicole Hajj, Noelle Rudloff, Debbie Sharp and Maryann Murray. (Kathleen Ivy Photography)

Items or program enhancements on the school’s wish list are those that “may not seem possible” to provide, but due to “the size, scale and generosity of our community, these may not only be a wish, but we may be able to make them come true,” she said.

The highest priority on the wish list, which Gamer said would be “made instantly from funds raised” is 12 new iPads to be used by all the students in the school.

“From enrichment to instruments, furnishing new iPads and adding to the maker space, the opportunities are limitless,” she said. 

The event sold out in just one month. Among the standing-room only crowd were 45 teachers and staff members as well as guests from every school throughout town and town officials and School Committee members.

“The event included something for everyone and by just being there guests had already contributed. Upon arrival, guests could participate in various raffles or simply enjoy conversation with friends, neighbors or their child’s teachers.”

Guests were kept entertained throughout the evening by Philip Carbone, owner of Time of Your Life DJ Service and Entertainment. He’s a North Reading native who also attended North Reading Public Schools, she said.

They enjoyed warm flat bread pizzas, passed hors d’oeuvres and custom chocolates made by Batchelder parents Wendy Mutti and Laura Lambert, owners of Frankie’s Sweet Shoppe.

She said the silent and live auctions “presented a nice variety of items to bid on, from a fun night for 10 with a private tasting and limousine transport to the Bancroft to an exclusive VIP experience to see the Daily Show in NYC. Even a perfectly planned party package at Kings with pizza and unlimited soda were among the offerings.”

Some of the most popular auction offerings were provided by the school’s teachers.

“Teacher experiences like being principal for the day or an ‘almost sleep over’ with our kindergarten teachers and a trip to the New England Aquarium with Mrs. Dill, or front row seats with a special parking spot for the Winter Concert” were among the array of offerings, she said.

Tom Weitbrecht, the principal auctioneer and broker of Strategic Auction Alliance, ran the auction portion of the event. “Tom and his team provided strategic advice and counsel on the flow of the evening, processing transactions and further complimenting all of our hard work in securing the items being offered. Without a doubt, he was a wonderful partner who brought professionalism and organization to our event while also pushing and pulling to get the most out of the audience in terms of excitement!” she said.

“People are still talking about the monies raised and are just blown away by the generosity of our donors and guests,” Gamer said. “Everyone was involved, everyone gave in their own way and everyone played a huge role in the enormous success of this event and celebrating 100 years of excellence at the Batchelder School.”