On the Town: Providence High starts fundraising event

More than 250 supporters of Providence High School gathered on the back patio of Lakeside Golf Club to kick off the school's 2014 fundraising gala with a martini, lemon drop and cosmo sunset cocktail party this past Saturday.

Welcomed by the head of the institution, Joe Sciuto, and the event's chairwoman, Jenny Breakman, attendees had the opportunity to enjoy their libations while perusing a silent auction and mingling with the evening's honorees, Jeff Cirillo and Michael and Caroline Cusumano.

Cirillo is a Providence alumni who went on to be a star athlete at USC, followed by a 14-year career as a third baseman with seven Major League Baseball teams. He currently works as a scout with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Michael and Caroline Cusumano, of the Burbank-based Cusumano Real Estate Group, are both born-and-raised Burbankers, who, along with their family, have been longtime major benefactors of numerous local nonprofit and educational organizations.

This year marks the 59th anniversary of Providence High School, which began as an all-girls school that first held classes in donated circus tents that were set up in what is now the school's parking lot.

By November of the school's first year, classes were moved into a facility that was still under construction. Four years later, Providence held its first commencement ceremony as 68 young women received their diplomas at the Starlight Bowl.

The following year, the Board of Admissions and Relations of the University of California granted accreditation to Providence High School. And, in the mid-1970s, the decision was made to open up the school to male students, too.

In the 1980s, with enrollment dwindling, a parent group worked tirelessly with the school's first principal, Sr. Lucille Dean, and the faculty to design a series of recruitment and education programs, many of which are still in place today.

Creating the scholarship committee and Providence in Action, an interactive workshop for prospective students, the groundwork was laid for the eventual creation of academically focused programs that saw enrollment steadily climb and the school go on to be recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education.

Among those who made last week's gala a success were members of the event committee Vickie Bagwell, Susan Yee, Kathy Nelson, Allison Knowles and Denise Smithers.

Along with former Burbank mayors Michael Hastings and Jess Talamantes, other notables who enjoyed the evening's dinner, formal presentation of the honorees and after-party were Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority President Susan Georgino, numerous members of the Cusumano family including Chuck, Roger and Evelyn Cusumano, and Lisa Rawlins, senior vice president of public affairs at Warner Bros. Entertainment, which, along with Worthe Real Estate Group and the Walt Disney Co., served as the evening's premiere sponsors.


DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.

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