In a short period of time, The Bush School pivoted to remote schooling on Wednesday, March 11 and was poised to host Celebrate Bush, the school’s annual fundraiser and auction, in person on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Three days later, Director of Development Sharon Hurt and Community and Engagement Manager Amelia Kramer became experts in shifting in-person to virtual events.
This was the first ever all online auction at The Bush School. Despite the last-minute changes, in nine hours the Bush community raised $539,200 in support of financial aid. With the digital celebration, social media engagement soared with 1,029 likes and 11,084 impressions from eleven posts on the Bush Instagram page.
At that time in the pandemic, few schools had successfully attempted to move their events to a virtual platform, and Amelia, Sharon, and Head of School Percy L. Abram were looked to for guidance from independent schools across the Pacific Northwest region and around the country. Immediately following the event, they found themselves on virtual panels speaking to their experience, what they learned, and what they will try again in years to come.
Amelia shared what drove her to execute this event through such drastic changes: “Now more than ever, it felt critical to ensure the school had financial aid resources to support families through the financial uncertainty of the pandemic. Having received financial aid and scholarship myself to attend college, I was personally motivated to make sure Celebrate Bush could take place so that our students could continue to have this same opportunity.”
Sharon and Amelia both remarked how integral the entire community was in making this shift. Incredible volunteers like Celebrate Bush Chair Gretchen Boehm and representatives from the Families Association along with families, staff, students, and the event sponsors worked to make this event a success.
Sharon reflected on the event and its positive impact: “Celebrate Bush 2020 was a deeply moving experience because of the collaboration and generosity on every level and at every turn from our team, our sponsors and donors, and our community. The Development team focused our collective energy and strengths and turned the event into a virtual experience in less than a week. Our sponsors stuck with us, our item donors were flexible, and our community showed up in a big way. It was not surprising, but it was heartwarming and filled me with pride.”
Even with a new format, everyone’s commitment to the mission of the event remained the same: to support financial aid at Bush.