By Kristina Houck
Canyon Crest Academy opened in 2004 with 364 students in 19 trailers in a parking lot. Today, the Carmel Valley school has grown to 1,880 students and a full range of academics, athletics and arts programs made possible by the Canyon Crest Academy Foundation.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the school, the parent-led organization is hosting its annual gala May 16 at CCA’s Proscenium Theater.
“The school’s growth in the community, academic achievements, cultural achievements, sports achievements — everything — has exceeded my expectations as a community member,” said Amy Caterina, president of the foundation’s board. “The school is very successful.”
With “Across the Universe: A Tribute to the Beatles,” as this year’s theme, the gala will recognize the 10th anniversary of the school and the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ debut in the United States.
In the style of an old Hollywood opening night, guests will walk the red carpet, pose for the paparazzi and feast on Beatles-themed treats as they make their way through an “Octopus’s Garden” to the show. The musical, theatrical and artistic extravaganza will feature songs from the Beatles and students from CCA’s Envision programs for cinema, dance, digital and fine art, instrumental music, theater, and vocal music.
“We wanted to really throw away the old model of a gala and not do something offsite where we spend our money at a hotel,” said Joanne Couvrette, the foundation’s executive director. “We wanted to spend money at the school and make the event centered around our students.”
Last year, the foundation spent thousands holding the gala at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. By holding the event on campus this year, the foundation is investing in the school.
The foundation has already purchased portable, multi-colored, computer-controlled lights for the Proscenium Theater, as well as other equipment, that students can use for years to come.
“That’s why we’re here,” Caterina said. “This is our job — to support the school.”
Holding the gala on campus also gives the foundation an opportunity to increase student involvement in the event. From event posters to gala entertainment, students are involved in every aspect of the occasion this year, Couvrette said.
“When people see the students’ involvement, they understand why they need to donate,” Couvrette said. “They are a shining example of why you should donate to promote the programs the students benefit from.”
CCA senior Ali King serves as the student lead of the gala’s food committee.
Through the school’s ROP Business Management class, King helps operate NEST, the student-run café at CCA. Using her restaurant experience, King is developing the appetizer menu for the gala and will train a team of students to assist with the appetizer table at the event.
“It’s been nice to get the experience of being at a meeting, communicating with other people and coming up with ideas for the appetizer table,” said King, who wants to be a chef. “You can really be creative in the kitchen. I like serving others and seeing their faces as they taste the food.”
“These kids need to have experience and exposure in the fields that they’re interested in,” added Caterina. “Access and opportunity — that’s a big piece of what these kids need to ultimately be successful in their chosen field.”
The gala opening night of “Across the Universe: A Tribute to the Beatles” begins at 5:30 p.m. May 16 at the Proscenium Theater.
Gala tickets cost $75. The foundation is also selling aluminum chair plaques for Proscenium Theater seats. Plaques cost $500. Those interested may purchase discounted gala tickets with a plaque. A plaque and one ticket is $525. A plaque and two tickets is $575.
Proceeds will benefit the foundation, which supports CCA’s academics, athletics and arts programs.
“Canyon Crest Academy is an amazing school,” said Caterina, whose daughter, a CCA senior, is currently interning at Birch Aquarium through the school.
“It’s been a real privilege to get to know the teachers and the staff better through my involvement in the foundation. I would love to encourage other parents to get more involved with the foundation because you do get this exposure to the school that you might not see as a parent.”
For more information about the gala, and to purchase tickets and plaques, visit www.ccagala.com.
For more information about the CCA Foundation, visit