Elise Unruh

CHS and CMS theater arts teacher Elise Unruh has received the Crystal Apple Educator Award.

CEF’s Havana Nights-themed event raises money for CUSD enrichment programs

Elise Unruh may not be ready for her closeup, but the community has been waiting more than 30 years to shine the spotlight on the leading lady of Carpinteria Unified School District’s Performing Arts program. At the Carpinteria Education Foundation’s 27th annual Carp-a-Cabana on Sept. 7, the wait will be over.

Unruh said she is flattered by the honor, but the 2019 Crystal Apple Awardee added, “More importantly, I’m thrilled that CEF chose to support our Performing Arts programs. Their efforts have enriched the lives and contributed to the academic success of countless CUSD students over the years. I am looking forward to working with them to enhance our resources for the Performing Arts classes at CHS.”

Part fundraiser, part recognition ceremony, and 100-percent benefitting the students of Carpinteria Unified School District, Carp-a-Cabana will be staged with a Havana Nights theme. Headlining the menu are barbecue pork tenderloin with chimichurri, citrus chicken, black beans, mojitos, Cuba libres, Rincon Brewery beers and wine. Music along with live and silent auctions round out the evening’s entertainment. Stars of the A-list dessert auction include Rori’s, Zookers and Renaud’s. In addition to auctioning desserts, guests will bid on a four-night stay at a private cabin in Big Bear, Disneyland tickets, a Malibu Wine Safari Weekend, a Santa Barbara International Film Festival Getaway and a four-night trip to see a Broadway show in NYC.

“Elise is a gem and one of our most respected teachers in CUSD. For decades, she has directed Carpinteria Middle and High schools’ bands, orchestra, choir and MUSES, transforming generations of students by believing in the power of the performing arts to enrich their lives,” said Diana Rigby, superintendent of the school district. Casey Balch, CEF board president, noted, “We’re excited to support the arts and to honor Elise. She has contributed so much to the students and the district. We’re looking forward to another successful event.”

A former student shared the life-changing impact of CUSD’S Performing Arts program and Unruh’s influence: “The dramatic arts program meant everything to me in high school. As a shy teenager lacking in self-esteem, I learned to sing and dance in front of a crowd. That training has served me well as a professor of history where daily I stand in front of a classroom … (Ms. Unruh) created a welcoming space where I could try new things and fail safely.”

Known for its welcoming, community-wide activities such as the Dine Out 4 Carp Kids program, CEF is committed to filling the fiscal gap caused by more than $900,000 in recent school budget cuts. Last year, the nonprofit launched a K-5 elementary arts program, the first since 2004. Every student participates in art, music, drama or dance once a week for the entire school year through the Santa Barbara County Education Office’s Children’s Creative Project.

“Without the support of CEF, CUSD elementary students would not have any access to quality Visual and Performing Arts learning experiences. We are eternally grateful for CEF,” noted Rigby.

In that it-takes-a-village sense of camaraderie, Westerlay Orchids, 3504 Via Real, will hold a fundraiser from Aug. 30 through Sept. 6 by donating 100 percent of its retail shop proceeds, further supporting CEF’s art, music and other enrichment programs.

“CEF has been an amazing partner for decades by raising funds to support CUSD enrichment programs that make a difference in the lives of our students,” summed up the superintendent. Tickets for Carp-a-Cabana are $85 per person and may be purchased at carpedfoundation.org.

Carp-a-Cabana sponsors include Cresco Labs, Mac Brown Excavating, Grant Cox Enterprises, Westerlay Orchids, Montecito Bank & Trust, Matson Industrial Finishing, BEGA North America, Montecito Law Group, Michael & Marni Cooney and Alan and Carol Koch.

For more information on CEF, contact (805) 881-3498 or visit carpedfoundation.org.

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