“A Party With a Purpose”: Bishop’s Gala Fundraises for Financial Aid


On May 6th, The Bishop’s School will hold their annual gala for the Bishop’s community to raise money for the financial aid program.

When Bishop’s parents party, they “party with a purpose,” according to the Bishop’s annual gala’s website. On May 6, 2023, the party, with the theme Stars at Knight, Big and Bright, will take place on the quad. The purpose: fundraising for financial aid. 

According to the Bishop’s website, $4.1 million of the budget is allocated to financial aid each year, which will help 20% of Bishop’s students. Of this, 25% is raised at the gala, amounting to about $1,025,000.

Bishop’s acknowledges the importance of their financial aid program on their website. They declare that they “seek to provide access and affordability to all qualified students regardless of family background and structure, religion, ethnicity, financial ability or geographic location.” 

One of the featured events of a gala, including a Bishop’s gala, is the auction, and this one is no different. In fact, both a silent and live auction will be held, which will include items “from vacations [to] dinners with private chefs [to] tickets to sporting events and music venues,” according to Gala Co-Chair Mia Kelly (parent of William ‘28, Olivia ‘30). Ms. Kelly co-chairs with Melissa Murfey (‘97, parent of Carl ‘25, Laird ‘28) and Juli Oh Browne (Lila ’20, Eli ’23, Ian ’25).

Ms. Kelly acknowledged that there is a wide variety of items being auctioned, which might be due to the sheer number of people willing to donate. Items can be donated by parents, alumni, teachers, staff, and community members, in addition to local businesses. 

Contacting businesses is one of the many tasks performed by gala volunteers, one of whom is Juliana Abraham (parent of Safina ‘25, Serena ‘27). She said that she has worked on “reaching out to local businesses and asking them to donate,” and that she has “been excited and pleasantly surprised to get support!”

But the auction is just one part of the gala. Alum Zach Barnhorst (‘95) will play with his band during the event, which will also feature an alum “coming to speak … about his experience as a Bishop’s student who received a scholarship and where his education has led him in life,” according to Gala Co-Chair Melissa Murfey. 

Organizing this event takes a tremendous amount of work, especially from the gala co-chairs and volunteers. Ms. Kelly elaborated, saying that “Preparation for the gala includes coming up with a theme, a design of the venue, finding entertainment, an auctioneer and curating a special menu.”

The theme — Stars at Knight, Big and Bright — is meant to be rustic-chic and outdoorsy, according to Ms. Kelly. The gala will be held on the quad, as usual, but there will be no tent this year, which inspired the theme of stars. Ms. Murfey explained the reasoning behind the change, saying that “The week of the gala is AP week on campus this year so we are skipping the tent to avoid the commotion and noise so classes and exams are not disrupted.”

Director of Parent and Family Relations Beth Garon and Annual Giving and Family Relations Coordinator Caroline Welsh oversee the organization of the event. Their work includes “working with all of the vendors (caterer, rentals, décor, valet, auctioneer), creating marketing materials with a graphic designer and our marketing team (invitations, social media videos and posts, emails), maintaining the budget, tracking ticket sales and sponsorships, managing the gala website including adding all of the auction items to the site, [and] making sure everything runs smoothly the night of the event,” according to Mrs. Garon.

It takes widespread participation to make the event successful, which is why faculty and staff at Bishop’s are also involved. Mrs. Garon explained that “They’ll check guests in, sell opportunity drawing tickets, input auction sales into our database and act as spotters during the live auction.” The kitchen staff also prepares dinner for all of the volunteers and vendors.

As Ms. Abraham said, at its core, “The gala is … a community-wide celebration”: a time for members of the Bishop’s community to come together and support an important cause.