Laissez les bons temps rouler! Donned in masks and feathers, The Wilson School families and friends gathered on February 25 to celebrate Mardi Gras during the 34th Annual Thistle Auction.
Parent chairs Heather Akred and Susy Stark planned plenty of New Orleans-themed fun throughout the night. After bidding on 200 silent auction items, guests joined in a second line parade led by St. Louis Big Band. After feasting on a New Orleans specials, including bourbon chicken and red beans and rice, the Wilson School class of 2017 performed. Adorned in beads and boas, the sixth graders hip hopped to Zydeco music.
During the live auction, emceed by Wilson parent Ray Hartmann, attendees bid on a shopping spree at Frontenac Plaza, a Neil Diamond concert package, a St. Louis Blues suite and more.
The head of the Alumni Leadership Committee, Steve Shepley, presented two alumni with achievement awards. Amber Draper, class of 2007, received the Young Alumni Award and Katie Vagnino, class of 1993, received the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Wilson parent Andrew Ruben led a celebration of the Excellence Program's 10th anniversary. He hoped to raise $10,000 for the program, which the community rapidly reached and even surpassed. With over $16,000 raised during the auction, the total funds for this year's Excellence Program reached $100,000.
Thank you to all those who helped make the night one to remember! Says Susy, "The auction was so successful because of the amazing Wilson community members who worked together to make it happen."
The Alumni Achievement Awards, one dedicated to a distinguished alum and one for a young alum, were established by Wilson School’s Alumni Leadership Committee to recognize and honor the accomplishments of Wilson alumni who continue to bring pride and inspiration to the Wilson community.
Congratulations to this year's recipients, Amber Draper, who received the Young Alumni Award and Katie Vagnino, who received the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Amber Draper graduated from The Wilson School in 2007 and from Westminster Christian Academy in 2013. Says Amber, "I still keep in contact with many Wilson teachers. They helped me so much and I was happy to see them at the auction to thank them in person for all that they've done for me."
Amber is currently a senior at Truman State University, studying broadcast journalism. Since starting at Truman, Amber worked for the campus new station, working her way up to holding positions as a reporter, anchor, videographer and producer. During her junior year, she launcher her own talk show entitled "Rising from our Roots," which she wrote, hosted and produced. She currently serves as executive producer.
Amber participated in the Alpha Phi Alpha Black and Gold pageant, in which she was crowned the queen. She spent a semester abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica at Universidad Veritas and created a documentary about her experience. She has volunteered for Convoy of Hope and the St. Louis Area Food Bank.
Following her college graduation, Amber plans to pursue a master's degree in public relations.
Katie Vagnino graduated from The Wilson School in 1993, then graduated from MICDS in 1999.
In 2003, she graduated with a degree in English from Yale University. In 2008, Katie moved to Boston to get her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Emerson College. Her thesis, a poetry manuscript titled "The Speed of Skin," was a nominee fro the Dean's Prize and earned a commendation from the Academy of American Poets.
Since 2010, Katie has taught creative writing, composition, research writing, and rhetoric at various secondary and higher education institutions including Emerson College, Roosevelt University and St. Paul's School. She has also led poetry workshops at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education and the Newberry Library. Currently, she is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire.
As a freelancer, Katie has contributed to the "Minneapolis Star Tribune," "Time Out New York," "Time Out Boston," "Time Out Chicago," "Role Reboot," and Smithsonian's "The Torch". Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in a number of journals including Poetry Quarterly. She hopes to publish her first book of poems in the near future.
"I am a better human being because of the empathy Wilson cultivated in me, and I move through the world grateful for the nine years I spent at 400 De Mun Ave.," says Katie. "Wilson taught me to be curious, to be creative, and to be kind."
Wilson in the News