by Jill Ragar Esfeld
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — “We expect this to be one of the biggest and best Gaudeamus events yet,” said Erica Kratofil, grants and marketing manager of the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF).
One of the highlights of Gaudeamus, CEF’s annual fundraiser, is always the featured student speaker.
This year’s event on Oct. 21 will showcase Yaneli Jacinto, a senior from Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kansas.
Yaneli is both a successful — and busy — young woman. A member of the National Honor Society, she is currently student body president at Ward with a wealth of extracurricular activities in sports, academics and service.
Yaneli is also a graduate of Resurrection Catholic School at the Cathedral in Kansas City, Kansas, this year’s CEF School of Excellence — an honor it’s received four times now.
You might say Yaneli is a perfect example of what Gaudeamus is all about — helping children with great potential, but little means, attend Catholic schools where their potential can reach fruition.
Currently, 1,400 students receive CEF scholarships, but there are 454 children, just like Yaneli, waiting for assistance.
Gaudeamus is about raising money to help those children, but it’s also about celebrating Catholic education by highlighting the archdiocese’s great schools.
Once again, at this year’s event, to be held at the Overland Park Convention Center, guests will be greeted at the cocktail hour by students from various CEF schools. They’ll then be ushered into dinner by Topeka’s Mater Dei drum line.
The evening is always fast-paced and enjoyable. Dinner entertainment will be provided by the student choir from Holy Trinity School in Lenexa.
41 Action News anchor Christa Dubill will take over this year as master of ceremonies.
Former emcee Stan Cramer, who has a nine-year history with CEF, will be the “Angels Among Us” honoree, along with his wife Suzan who recently passed away.
Their amazing history with the organization will be presented in a slide show.
“Stan was the Gaudeamus emcee,” said Kratofil. “He also served on CEF’s marketing committee and, during that time, was instrumental in producing the videos every year.
“Suzan volunteered on the Gaudeamus committee and helped every year stuffing invitation, cleaning vases, preparing name tags.
“She was a very active volunteer with us.”
Throughout the evening, a roving reporter will be doing live interviews with guests.
“We’ll also have a video we filmed this spring at St. Paul School [in Olathe] where we met with several parents and students who receive CEF scholarships,” said Kratofil.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and archdiocesan school superintendent Kathleen O’Hara will be on hand to present the School of Excellence award.
And every guest will receive a surprise gift.
“We’re really excited about the gift this year,” said Kratofil. “It’s something our CEF students were really involved in, and we think it turned out really well.”
Of course, guests will have an opportunity to make donations to CEF, incentivized by a record level challenge amount from a generous donor.
Two after-parties will be available this year. A coffee bar and complementary wine will be served outside the ballroom for those who wish to socialize and listen to music by vocalist Ron Gutierrez.
Downstairs, the CEF Futures will have a party open to everyone and featuring the Oread — a band comprised of Kansas University alumni.
“It will be a celebration of Catholic Education in our archdiocese,” said Kratofil. “And it’s an opportunity for all of us who value Catholic education to come together and offer our support.”