Holy Rosary Gala will be live virtual event this year

A welcome message greets users on the home page of the Holy Rosary School Gala's online auction platform. The event will be entirely virtual this year, with live-streamed announcements and auction bidding.
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

The annual Holy Rosary School Gala, one of the largest fundraisers for education in the area, has been changed to an online only, live-streamed event this year due to COVID concerns. Organizers are encouraging supporters to take part in the evening’s event through small watch parties at home, rather than a large crowd gathering at the school.

The gala auction will take place the evening of Feb. 27, broadcast live over Facebook and YouTube. The event will be led by MC Brian Gleize and Father Thomas Vordtriede, with other guests joining for the event.

“It’s real time, almost like a TV show,” said organizer Sonia McNeely, a fifth grade teacher at the school. “We’re basically learning to be YouTubers/streamers. ... We’re practicing and making sure there’s no glitches.”

Bidding in the auction will be done virtually this year as well, using a user-friendly platform that was tested successfully during last year’s auction, McNeely said. Once a person is registered, a website link will be sent to the participant’s smartphone or tablet, which they can use to browse and bid on items. When a higher bid comes in, the website automatically notifies other bidders.

The auction website is:  one.bidpal.net/holyrosarygala2021.

Bidding on the auction items will actually begin a week early, on Feb. 21, and continue until the live auction. The bidding on smaller items will close in groups during the live event, with high-demand items being closed one at a time afterward.

Some of the big items up for auction include a whole hog with processing, the “Party on the Prairie” special event, and an air plane ride, among many others, McNeely said. There are also several non-auction raffles with tickets for sale, including for half-a-beef with processing.

“The auction is open to anyone. Take a look, you might just see something you want to buy,” McNeely commented.

Fundraising goals

Money raised by the Holy Rosary School Gala is a major part of the school’s funding, said Principal Lori Racine. Every dollar raised goes back to the school for facilities and education.

“Without the community support we receive, we’d be unable to keep our tuition one of the lowest in the Archdiocese. Because we’ve been able to keep costs low through this fundraiser, we don’t have to charge parents as much,” Racine said.

She added that each year, the school devotes part of its fundraising to a major expense that would normally be unaffordable. This year, Holy Rosary is seeking to replace outdated smart boards in its 10 class rooms.

The new smart boards can interact directly with Chromebook laptop computers, which have been provided for every student in second grade and up, Racine said. With the new tech, even students attending class virtually will be able to directly view or interact with what the teacher has on the board.

The estimated cost of the smart boards is $3,500 each. Racine said the drive to stay up-to-date with the technology is part of the school’s mission to provide an education that matches the academic rigor of any other school.

With this being the first year having an online-only fundraiser, Racine said there’s some apprehension for how well the event will go. But she said every family in the school is helping promote, organize or run the event, just as they do every year. That sense of family and community, she said, is the most important part of making the event successful.

“Our gratitude goes out to all the people who support Holy Rosary. We wouldn’t be here without them,” Racine said.

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