PHOTOS: A WOW! Affair 2013

On April 3, 2013, more than 500 people gathered at the Marriott Copley to celebrate what's possible when citizens and schools team up. The annual gala for Citizen Schools, A WOW! Affair, is designed to give supporters a chance to witness the impact they're having.

First, VIPs attended a reception honoring the Citizen Teacher of the Year (perennial writing coach Jolie Siegel) and two winners of the Sherif Nada Leadership Award (Citizen Schools alumni Kevin Martinez and David Gonzalez). Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick even dropped in to congratulate board members and school partners.

Then guests interacted with a WOW! Gallery, a showcase of nine apprenticeships from this school year. Students came straight from school to teach the elegant crowd about chromatography, mathematical codes, LED programming, and the writing process--as learned from volunteers from Google, Cognizant, Cubist, Weber Shandwick, and more.

Inspired by the amazing things Boston's middle schoolers have learned, attendees bid on silent auction items that would expand their horizons--adventures in travel, culinary experiences, and exclusive access to sporting events.

Finally, the Citizen Schools team assembled for a storytelling program honoring long-time partner Fidelity Investments. Co-founder and CEO Eric Schwarz remembered the year Citizen Schools students showed Boston's Mayor Tom Menino how to use the Internet. Fidelity's Ron O'Hanley accepted the award on behalf of the company's employee volunteers, and thanked the nearly 900 Fidelity associates who have personally taught apprenticeships, as brought to life in this upbeat video.

And the evening culminated in the story of Eli (pronounced "Ellie") Martinez, whose journey through Orchard Gardens K-8 School was dramatically shaped by the team of adults connected by Citizen Schools. The powerful video concluded and the cast reunited live on stage. Orchard Gardens Principal Andrew Bott concluded the evening with a stirring call to the citizens present:

"I am used to fighting for what I know my students need. I need Citizen Schools to continue their work at Orchard Gardens."

The citizens answered the call with $570,000 worth of gifts--exceeding our goal. Thanks to you, Citizen Schools can keep expanding the learning day at schools in Massachusetts and beyond, helping students like Eli discover and achieve their dreams.