School galas shine with future artists and alumni; charities hear from space scientist, view fashion, enjoy opera and honor local history

| May 30, 2024 | 0 Comments

Guests were welcomed into the Avalon Hollywood by a student-led strings orchestra for the annual LACHSA Future Artists Gala. LACHSA (Los Angeles County High School for the Arts) is a tuition-free high school. Founded nearly 40 years ago, the conservatory-style school focuses on dance, theater, music, visual arts and cinematic arts. Students are accepted based on their auditions, and they come from all over the greater Los Angeles County area.

JOSH GROBAN (left) and, left-to-right, Jerry Freedman, Robert Vargas and Finn Wittrock attended the LACHSA gala. Groban and Wittrock are alumni.

Prominent LACHSA alumni include singer and Broadway performer Josh Groban (who was brought up in Windsor Square), popular sister band Haim, visual artist Kehinde Wiley (who created the official portrait of former president Barack Obama), and singer / musician Phoebe Bridgers.

LARCHMONT residents and Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) board member Elizabeth Dennehy (left) with son Jack Lancaster (LACHSA alum) and Netta Walker.

Actor and LACHSA alum Finn Wittrock was host for the gala on April 27, and he seamlessly guided the event through each performance. John and Robin Lithgow received the 2024 LACHSA Arts Advocates Award, based on their giving and their newly produced special, “Art Happens Here,” which was filmed at LACHSA for PBS stations nationwide.

World-renowned artist and LACHSA alum Robert Vargas (who recently painted the LA Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani mural in downtown Los Angeles) received the LACHSA Luminary Award, which was followed by a live auction hosted by Jimmy Kimmel writer Tony Barbieri.

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THE MUSES Woman of the Year luncheon honored JPL Director Dr. Laurie Leshin (center), shown with Hancock Park’s Melanie Miller Guise (left) and Margo O’Connell.

Also, in late April, at a full house luncheon at the Jonathan Club downtown on April 25, The Muses of the California Science Center Foundation honored Dr. Laurie A. Leshin as Woman of the Year. Dr. Leshin, a geochemist and space scientist, is the first female director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a role that includes serving as a vice president at Caltech, which manages JPL for NASA.

The Muses was created more than 60 years ago by a group of women who wanted to support children’s education programs at the California Museum of Science and Industry. Local supporters attending the luncheon honoring Dr. Leshin included Hancock Park residents Melanie Miller Guise and Margo O’Connell.

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JUNE BILGORE (front left) hosted A Chic Affaire table with guests (clockwise, starting behind her), Jennifer Costin, Andrea Falco, Dre Guttag, Andrew Bilgore, Deniz Olgac Bilgore, Greer Saunders, Christian B. Mitman and Christy McAvoy.

It truly was A Chic Affaire at the lovely Lakeside Golf Club on May 9. There, The Mannequins Auxiliary and the College Alumni Auxiliary of the Assistance League of Los Angeles gathered with friends for a super fashion show and boutique luncheon.

FREMONT PLACE resident Donna Econn models new fashion from Trina Turk.

THE MANNEQUINS model Melly Lindsay shows a Capri Collection ensemble.

Windsor Square’s June Bilgore shared the welcoming duties with chairman of The Mannequins Rebecca Trail. The fashions were from Trina Turk, and bright color clearly was the theme. Turk calls this her “Capri Collection,” inspired by the turquoise waters and bright florals of the Mediterranean. The Assistant League’s Mannequins Auxiliary was founded in 1943 and continues to raise funds for the League’s charitable services that have been a fixture in Los Angeles for more than 100 years. Fremont Place local Donna Econn is not only an executive officer of The Mannequins; she also was one of the models for Trina Turk’s new collection.

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SUPPORTERS gather at Taglyan Center on Vine Street to celebrate 20th Anniversary of Larchmont Charter School.

The next day, Larchmont Charter School (LCS) — the little free neighborhood charter school that could — celebrated its 20th anniversary at Vine Street’s Taglyan Cultural Complex on May 10. Billed as “20 Years of Magic,” the blowout event, which featured a silent auction and many many many courses of food, showcased the history and growth of the school in the 20 years since its inception.

Starting on one campus in Hollywood, the school has now grown to four campuses throughout the greater Larchmont / Hollywood / Brookside / Downtown areas, giving hundreds of local children an alternative choice for public education, rooted in “the values of community, diversity and academic excellence.”

LARCHMONT Charter founding parents Lisa Norling, Kim Huffman Cary, Lisa O’Malley with teacher Heather Kampf.

Heather Duffy Boylston, one of the school’s founders, recalled that, in the beginning, parents took out second mortgages on their homes to fund the school, as well as delivered toilet paper and other supplies to the school when they realized there was none available. “The first time we pulled up and that ‘Larchmont Charter School’ sign was there, it was like, ‘oh my gosh, this is real,’” Boylston recalled happily.

FOUNDERS Heather Boylston and Lindsay Sturman reminisce about the early years of the brand new charter school.

The school opened as a K-2 program in 2005, then expanded by one grade each year until the school reached its final destination: K-12. But then, it grew even more! When California approved universal TK, Larchmont added the new grade to the roster.

Students this year, some of whom are the first to graduate in their families, received more than 500 college acceptances to schools such as Harvard, Princeton, Yale, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Loyola Marymount University and USC. Today, LCS has more than 1,600 students enrolled in grades TK-12 and is one of the most sought after charter schools in Los Angeles. LCS is a California Distinguished School, one of Niche’s Best Schools, and is ranked one of the Best High Schools in America by U.S. News & World Report.

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CURTAIN CALL (without the curtain) was given in the Hancock Park garden of Robert Ronus by “Madama Butterfly” singers, from left: Kimberly Sogioka, Janet Szepei Todd, Kenneth Stavert and Peter Lake.

RONUS GARDEN music aficionados included, from left, next-door neighbors Sinan and Alina Kuzum, Dr. Neville Anderson, Robert Ronus, Pacific Opera Project executive director Katherine Powers and Carlotta Keely.

A week later, the theme shifted to opera — in the Hancock Park backyard of Robert Ronus. He gathered neighbors and friends from across the city to experience the extraordinary singing of young artists who are part of the Pacific Opera Project (POP), specifically singers in the upcoming “Madama Butterfly” performances taking place at the Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo. Performing in the Ronus garden were Janet Szepei Todd, Peter Lake, Kimberly Sogioka and Kenneth Stavert.

The novel production, sung in Japanese and English (as compared to Puccini’s original Italian) is being revived during Opera America’s 2024 Opera Conference and World Opera Forum, being held this year in downtown Los Angeles. The event brings opera administrators, artists, trustees and advocates from across North America to DTLA.

POP’s “Madama Butterfly” will have performances on Saturday and Sunday, June 1 and 2, and on Friday and Sunday, June 7 and 9. Learn more at The timing of the conference also allows out-of-towners (assuming tickets are still available) to attend LA Opera’s fabulous production of Puccini‘s “Turandot,” which has four performances remaining at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion through June 8.

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CITY ARCHIVIST Michael Holland (left) and fellow Los Angeles City Historical Society board member Geraldine Knatz present the group’s Special Recognition Award to local resident and former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky (center).

The next day, Los Angeles history was the theme as local resident and former Los Angeles County Supervisor (and Los Angeles City Councilmember before that) Zev Yaroslavsky was one of the guests of honor at the Los Angeles City Historical Society annual Gala Awards Show and Dinner. Held, as it was for many years past, at Taix French Restaurant on May 19, Yaroslavsky was saluted along with other award winners DeMarco Smith, Bobby Green, Christina Rice, Judy Baca, and, posthumously, Todd Gaydowski, the former president of the society and former City Archivist. Former society president and former chief executive of the Port of Los Angeles, Geraldine Knatz, and City Archivist Michael Holland presented the awards.

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SKEE-BALL attracted NGA members and guests at La Brea Avenue’s All Season Brewing Company (in the former Firestone Tires building). Shown rolling away is June Bilgore.

Rounding out the merry month of May, NGA held its first ever off-site member appreciation party in a private room at All Season Brewing Company at 800 S. La Brea Ave. on May 21.

NGA PARTIERS felt very appreciated at the All Season Brewing Company party.

Members showed up with their “plus ones” to enjoy an open bar and Mexican food from Chicas Tacos. The end-of-year party celebrated the hard work the members have performed over the past year, raising $53,000 to purchase and then provide needed clothing, linens and personal care items to organizations including Operation School Bell, Alexandria House, Assistance League of Los Angeles, Aviva Family and Children’s Services, Good Shepherd, Imagine LA, and Los Angeles House of Ruth.

Guests bid on silent auction items such as horseback riding in Griffith Park, Jewelry by Olivia K, Hollywood Bowl box seats, LA Dodgers tickets, and more! The night ended with Skee-Ball, lots of rowdy conversation, and plenty of excitement for the upcoming year of NGA.

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For those of you looking to support an important cause, which is both local and fun, don’t miss this year’s St. Vincent Meals on Wheels Hollywood Under the Stars gala fundraiser on Sat., June 22 at Paramount Studios. The event features some of Los Angeles’ “premier culinary and beverage offerings presented by L.A.’s top celebrity chefs and restaurants, with a spectacular program including live entertainment.”

Guests will indulge in mains and dessert samplings from chefs such as Gino Angelini of Angelini Osteria, L’antica Pizzeria da Michele (Francesco Zimone), Bertha Mae’s Brownie Co. and Malibu Meringue.

The magic starts at 6:30 p.m. and will feature actor and longtime Circle of Angels donor Ian McShane as an Honored Guest.

It’s not too late to buy your tickets, so go online to to reserve your place in Hollywood fundraising history!

And now you’re in the Larchmont know!

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Category: People

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