Virgen: Plenty of reasons to celebrate

As Costa Mesa friends and neighbors toasted to good times at the OC Mix, a sweet voice sang in the background.

Amanda Moore, a 16-year-old Costa Mesa High senior, tickled her keyboard and covered Carrie Underwood ("Before he cheats") and Fleetwood Mac ("Landslide") among other prominent musicians.

Moore's talent was undeniable and she could one day make songs that others will cover. For now she was the perfect touch during the Costa Mesa High School Foundation's annual gala Nov. 9. Everyone was there to help raise money for the foundation and to help a school that has such talented students as Moore, an aspiring musician and artist.

Moore said she is in the process of making an album. You can check her out on YouTube. She says she enjoys rap and hip-hop music, and will sometimes sing in one of those collaboration-type songs with her boyfriend Christian Perez, who helps her record music.

"I love this," Moore said of playing at the gala. "It's such a different vibe. You get to see everyone in a different light. Hopefully they see me in a different light."

Plans for the annual gala began in June, said Debi Wanbaugh, the event chair and CMHS Foundation's financial secretary. Wanbaugh, a Costa Mesa alumna, had children, James and Brooke, who graduated from CMHS.

"Everybody loves the school," Wanbaugh said. "That's why I do it still. I want our community to want to go to the public school."

Wanbaugh said she was excited and overwhelmed with the turnout as close to 300 people showed up to the event, that featured dinner, auction and wine from We Olive Wine Bar.

The Foundation also celebrated the 60th anniversary for Costa Mesa, and the gala also had a theme called, "Going Green," in conjunction with the eco feel at the OC Mix. But Wanbaugh also thought "green" could symbolize money.

Those that attended helped with that. Louie Feinstein, a local businessman, purchased an auction item – the Party Bus night – for $1,000. That helped the CMHS Foundation raise close to $21,000 through the gala, Wanbaugh said.

The Foundation also helps Costa Mesa middle school. The gala seemed to come at a great time, as some of the sports teams have achieved big-time success in the fall.

The Mustangs' football team went 5-0 in the Orange Coast League to win the league championship. The CMHS boys' water polo team finished second in league.

The school's cheer and band programs have also excelled in their respective competitions.

"It's just great to have a dedicated group of parents around who care so much about our schools that they're able to put these great events together," Costa Mesa Principal Phil D'Agostino said. "It's a good year for us. It's a good year on a lot of fronts. The academic rigor of our program is going up. We have common core coaches who are working with teachers. We've got more club programs on campus than ever before. It doesn't hurt that our fall sports programs have done really well … This is a great celebration of a school and a community that are doing great things for kids."

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