Dog Days of Music Are Over in Carlsbad Unified School District

Jun 10, 2024 | Events, Music, News

Carlsbad, California – The Carlsbad Educational Foundation’s (CEF) Gala to Benefit Students on May 18, 2024, was a lively night of fun and fundraising. Highlights included Carlsbad Mayor Keith Blackburn’s assistance in auctioning off ‘Captain,’ a rescue dog, and a live performance by Yachtley Crew, the nation’s top yacht rock band. The event raised over $300,000 for the Carlsbad Unified School District (CUSD).

A feature of the evening was the premiere of the documentary “The Stargazers,” celebrating a major milestone in music education. With additional state funding and collaboration between CUSD and CEF, every elementary school now has a full-time music teacher offering weekly classes for the first time in over 20 years at each of its nine elementary schools.

“Music teachers were difficult to recruit and keep because their positions were only part-time,” said Calavera Hills Elementary (CHE) Principal Kimberly Fuentes. “With the addition of our full-time music teachers, they’ve become part of our team and truly invest in the goals that we have set forth for our school site. Additionally, they have time during the day to develop clubs or activities to enrich the school experience for our students.”

Mid-year data showed improvements in attendance and math and reading scores in the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program after CHE introduced a full-time music teacher.

“Students want to be here,” Fuentes said. “Students feel like they belong to something.”

100% of proceeds from the Gala to Benefit Students are donated back to CUSD via districtwide grants. The amount awarded to each elementary school for the 2024-25 school year was announced on Tuesday, June 11.

The grant awarded for districtwide elementary music programs totals $429,695. In the 2024-25 school year, CEF expects to grant over $1.5 million for K-12 programs in music, STEAM, and innovation.

“The funding from CEF gives us teachers the opportunities to keep these programs thriving,” said CHE Music Teacher Kelly Lack.

The Gala to Benefit Students is CEF’s largest annual fundraiser for districtwide programming in the Carlsbad Unified School District. Nearly 600 guests filled the Costa de la Luna lawn at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, bidding on silent auction packages donated by local businesses and supporters before competing in a lively live auction inside the ballroom.

An endearing moment occurred when Carlsbad Mayor Keith Blackburn took the stage with ‘Captain,’ a rescue dog seeking his forever home with the highest bidder. CEF partnered with the mayor and SPOT (Saving Pets One at a Time) Animal Rescue to facilitate the adoption. The highest bid was placed by the family fostering ‘Captain,’ whose children attend Carlsbad Unified School District. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to SPOT Animal Rescue.

“Seeing our community come together to support education and even find a loving home for Captain was truly heartwarming,” said Laura Pitts, CEO of CEF. “It’s moments like these that highlight the incredible spirit of Carlsbad.”

The finale didn’t disappoint as Yachtley Crew took the stage. The dance floor was quickly packed, and guests stayed well past the final song to commune, laugh, and continue enjoying the moment.

“The energy in the room was electric,” Pitts said. “Everyone’s enthusiasm and generosity will continue to help us provide the enriching educational experiences our students deserve.”