Events generate a significant portion of the funds donated back to the school’s operating budget each year by the HSO. Additionally, HSO events bring school and parish families together to build relationships critical to a healthy and robust community. The HSO fields two key events each year which serve as the cornerstone of its annual schedule: Showcase and the Rummage Sale. A calendar of ancillary events scattered throughout the school year and summer months provide additional sources of revenue and opportunities to engage, serve and connect.
Summerfest is scheduled in late August, just prior to the start of the school year. The event is a community-wide celebration of summer and friendship, and invites all to join in for dinner, drink and live music under the stars. Summerfest was started by a group of fun-loving school parents who hoped to recreate the block party atmosphere they loved in their urban, Chicago neighborhoods prior to moving to Wilmette. Each year a number of bands are featured and co-chairs work hard to bring fresh, fun sounds to the main stage. Summerfest grows in popularity every year as word spreads and friends and neighbors from across the North Shore drop in and join us.
BACK TO SCHOOL NIGHT
Back to School Night takes place during the first month of school every year. The HSO’s Hospitality Committee comes together to plan and set-up for a dinner and presentation in the gym. Parents of all SFX students are invited to tour classrooms, to hear presentations from teachers, and to then head to the gym for a presentation from school administrators to rally the community around an exciting year to come. Parents are seated with teachers and with the parents of their children’s classmates, providing an opportunity to build relationships by grade. The Hospitality Committee also plans and organizes the New Family Dinner, a number of faculty meals and a holiday party for SFX teachers each winter.
THE RUMMAGE SALE
The St. Francis Xavier Rummage sale began over 40 years ago and is staged in the gym and Xavier Room. The event provides a worthy service to under resourced neighbors of the North Shore community who visit the sale year after year to purchase essential clothing and household items they might otherwise go without. Many dedicated parish volunteers have made this a beloved event, rolling up their sleeves for one week out of every year to reconnect with friends while serving those in need. Over the years, school children have also enjoyed the opportunity to visit the sale during the school day, before it is opened to the public. Students attend with their homerooms and find treasures including jewelry, games and books. Timing of the SFX Rummage Sale has fluctuated over the years, taking into account staffing and competing events. Currently, the sale is fielded once annually during the fall months. All proceeds from the Rummage Sale benefit the HSO’s give-back to St. Francis Xavier School.
MIDDLE SCHOOL HALLOWEEN PARTY
School parents coordinate a halloween party for SFX Middle School students during the week prior to Halloween. The party is held in the gym and provides pizza, a DJ and games and prizes for attendees, including students from St. Joseph’s School in Wilmette. Parents donate carved jack-o-lanterns and judge costume contests. The event provides a unique opportunity for our eldest students to enjoy a large-scale party dedicated to the Middle School.
Members of the HSO are always in search of new and interesting events to engage parents in new and interesting ways. A recent addition to the annual SFX event line-up is Trivia Night, which sets the tone for a friendly competition among groups who organize themselves into teams with a dedicated theme. Parents work together to answer Trivial Pursuit-type questions while enjoying food and drinks brought in to match their theme.
The week prior to Thanksgiving, SFX students enjoy a thanksgiving-style meal seated in their Crusader Communities in the gym. Students are challenged to bring non perishable food items to place around the “sharing tee-pee” in the center of the gym. These items will be donated to SFX’s sharing school and parish, St. Thomas of Canterbury. HSO volunteers serve the students their thanksgiving meal wearing holiday-inspired costumes so that the event is staffed by pilgrims, native americans and a even a turkey! Students are reminded that this is a time for which to be thankful for food, shelter and friendship.
The HSO assembles a diverse variety of events over the holidays every year. The Book Fair takes place over a week and is set up in the Xavier Room. Students and teachers create wish-lists of classroom and personal book selections and families are invited to do some holiday shopping at the fair in preparation for Christmas. Sip & Shop is scheduled during the same period and invites a multitude of talented vendors and craftsman to sell their wares in the gym. A Breakfast with Santa celebrates our youngest families, when Santa joins us in the gym for pictures, games and a light breakfast.
The SFX Christmas Shoppe is a well-loved tradition that students eagerly anticipate each holiday season. HSO volunteers set up a family-friendly shop during school hours, and students are invited to come with their homerooms and purchase gifts for their family members. The gifts are lovely wrapped and ready to place under the tree. Students enjoy the opportunity to purchase gifts that they themselves have selected and are proud to bring them home to share with family members.
FOLLOW THE STAR
On the last day of school prior to Christmas vacation, all K-8 students and teachers embark on a journey to find the Christ child. Readings, hymns and carols are part of this event as the SFX community wanders the neighborhood surrounding the school grounds in hopes of finding the Holy Family. Ultimately, the group is discovered in a nearby “manger” (the garage of an SFX family). Members of the 8th grade class are in attendance recreating the nativity and the baby Jesus is played by a newborn member of the school community (all babies born in the past year are entered into a drawing for the chance to play baby Jesus). Following the discovery of this holy group, students, parents and teachers retreat to the school for hot chocolate and treats coordinated through the HSO’s room parents.
CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK
Catholic Schools Week takes place at the end of January. The school’s administration schedules a number of events and activities during this period, as does the HSO. HSO events include Crusaders Tonight, a talent show showcasing 2nd through 8th grade talent, and the Faculty Feast, an evening when SFX parents provide a home cooked meal for all members of the faculty and staff.
FATHER DAUGHTER DANCE
Traditionally offered as a “sign-up” at Showcase, the Father Daughter Dance committee also extends an open invitations to all father-daughter couples of the St. Francis Xavier parish. Dads and their best girls join us on an evening just before Valentine’s Day to dance the night away to a DJ and to enjoy a casual dinner together.
The school’s annual dinner and auction is a much anticipated tradition that brings together the parents from the school and parish for an evening of fun and fundraising in support of SFX School. Prior to Showcase, money was traditionally raised at the school’s St. Patrick’s Day Party, held every March. Eventually, an adult-only auction was launched with the idea that parents could better focus on the important goal of fundraising while attending an event without their children. Additionally, this evening event would serve an important community-building role, bringing parents together to celebrate each other and the extended school family.
The idea took off and the school’s first “Showcase” was launched in 1992 with the goal of raising funds to defray the cost of tuition. Students made artwork that was sold as part of the auction, and their photos were projected up on a screen so that they could be “showcased” for all to enjoy (thus the name, Showcase St. Francis). In more recent years, Showcase has also added a “fund the need” component to focus on specific capital goals. St. Francis Xavier School is grateful to the many dedicated parent volunteers who have worked hard each year to ensure a successful Showcase for all to enjoy.
ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARTY
The St. Patrick’s Day Party takes place on the Saturday prior to the official holiday. The day begins with a 2pm liturgy, followed by music, irish dancing, games, drinks and an irish dinner. The party draws a diverse crowd that makes attendance at the event a rich experience as all generations of the parish are represented.