Stomachs – and Coffers – Filled at Barbecue and Fundraiser

By Brandon HENSLEY

Upon first inspection, the quad at CV High School on March 19 may have looked like any other during a fundraiser: There was music, food, a special performance by a Taekwondo group, and many raffle prizes to award.

But a closer look revealed something else, something more than just skin-deep.

“This day’s a wonderful day in that, yes it’s only a fundraiser, but it’s bringing people together. I see families, I see young people, I see older people, I see different cultures,” said Mathew Schick, CVHS music director.

Aren’t all fundraisers supposed to do that? Parents within the CV music department have answered ‘yes’ to that question. Now the department is in the second year of its reclamation project.

The second annual Korean Barbecue Luncheon was hosted by the CV Instrumental Music Foundation, which acts as a booster club for the music department. Families came and enjoyed the best food and music CV has to offer. In addition, those who attended also witnessed Korean parents actively involved in the department’s fundraising events, something that was sadly missing in years past, not due to lack of enthusiasm but more of a lack of direction.

In 2010, there were discussions on how to involve everyone in the department in its fundraising efforts. Car washes had gotten old; something new was needed. A student suggested having a Korean barbecue and that idea ushered in a new era of community involvement.

“Everybody jumped on board and everybody worked together to team up. The Korean parents came out in force to help grill and prepare food and it was a huge success and it was a great way to get that interaction going that was missing before,” said Tracey Black, president of the Music Foundation.

Parent Anna Choe who, along with fellow parent Janice Lee, helped organize a committee to prepare the food and assigned which parents did what. In all, she said, about 40 parents helped out.

“It just shows how one idea can do wonders,” Choe sad.

Choe was at the school at 6:30 a.m. preparing the cuisine. She was worried about the rain that might come – it didn’t – but as far as worrying about the turnout, well, that was so last year.

“Last year we did it for the first time; we had no expectations. We didn’t know what to expect …. We were just so surprised by over 800 people [that came], and this year we pretty much expected the same crowd.”

The department raised around $3,000 last year. Before that, the only number that mattered was 260. That’s the amount of students in the music program, and half of them are Korean. Until the barbecue idea was raised, the diverse community of the foothills remained on some level split.

That seems to have changed now.

“It’s a good way for the whole community to come out and try Korean food,” Choe said. “This is a group effort by all the parents; it doesn’t matter what nationality you are.”

“It was a great eye opener last year when I saw so many people working together,” said Schick. “[Koreans] make up a large percentage of the music department and we have very wonderful, helpful and supportive parents in the Korean community and [in] the kids themselves.”

Students from the department played on stage and some demonstrated their breakdancing prowess while Schick intervened every once in a while by announcing winning raffle numbers. Prizes included a Tony Hawk Wii game, tickets to the Hollywood Bowl and the grand prize, a Disneyland Park-Hopper package for two.

Schick, the school’s music director for 10 years, said he would like the event to grow every year. He wants to implement a Battle of the Bands contest, with prizes going to the winners.

As for the integration aspect, Schick himself has had to do the same recently. He and his wife had an apartment in Montrose but moved to Pasadena. After their youngest son was born – they have two sons – they moved back into the Dunsmore area.

Moving forward, Black said she hopes that one day this will be the only fundraiser the department needs. Holding it in March can be tricky, though. Heavy rains came early Saturday morning. If the rain had persisted, they would have moved it to a smaller, enclosed space in the school.

“We had a Plan B but I don’t think any of us got much sleep after 2 a.m. when it started pouring,” Black said. “We just got lucky; this is good karma.”

And good food and good times.