Starry Nights was born when massive budget cuts due to tax-limiting ballot measures threatened programs at schools across the state in 1996. In this can-do community, concerned parents, school administrators and community leaders came together to develop the Sisters Schools Foundation’s first fundraising event – the Sisters Starry Nights Benefit Concert Series. Organized and staffed entirely by volunteers and co-chaired by Susan Arends, Jeri Fouts and Novella Swisher, the event debuted in 1997 and has been the major source of funding ever since for the Sisters Schools Foundation.
The event has featured concerts at Sisters High School , with performances generously donated by such artists as Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Keb’ Mo’, Lyle Lovett, Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, Kathy Mattea, Rodney Crowell, Karla Bonoff, Kim Carnes, John Hiatt, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Lee Ann Womack, Gary Morris, Hal Ketchum, Chely Wright, Kenny Rankin, Nicolette Larson, Jeffrey Steele, Big Al Anderson and Christopher Cross.
Over the years, Starry Nights has found more innovative ways to support Sisters schools through the production of “A Starry Summer Night” with the High Street Band at Aspen Lakes; a benefit performance of the classic play “Love Letters” starring veteran actors Gregory Harrison and Linda Purl at the Tower Theatre; and a concert by University of Oregon a cappella singing groups “On the Rocks” and “Divisi.”
Most recently, Starry Nights presented “Wine, Women and Song” with Matraca Berg, Suzy Bogguss and Gretchen Peters and “An Evening with Karla Bonoff” featuring guitarist Nina Gerber. These renowned singer-songwriters showcased their works in the beautiful, intimate setting of The Belfry in downtown Sisters. The concerts included a live auction, hors d’ouevres prepared by the Sisters High School Culinary Arts students and fine wines by Eola Hills Wine Cellars.
As the funding crisis continues for Oregon public schools, Starry Nights remains dedicated to producing events that benefit the school district and the students it serves by providing support that helps keep vital programs alive.
To date, Starry Nights has contributed nearly $1.4 million dollars to the Sisters Schools Foundation to fund classroom and co-curricular programs and activities including music, art, drama, science, sports, math, technology, foreign language, IEE, outdoor school and has provided such key learning elements as state-of-the-art interactive SMART Boards in all classrooms at all three schools, as well as textbooks and library books at Sisters Elementary, Middle, and High Schools. In addition, a portion of the funds raised each year are set aside in an annuity growth fund that will provide financial stability for Sisters students in the future.
Sisters is a community that has a long history of working in harmony on behalf of children and education. Starry Nights extends its great appreciation to the caring circle of artists, sponsors and volunteers who have shared its commitment to keeping Sisters schools strong!