Dirt & Candlelight Gala Shines Bright in Delta Field

Category: District

Delta School District held a unique event, which celebrated two unique programs both entering their second year.

Dirt & Candlelight promised attendees an elegant evening of dinner, dancing, entertainment, and silent and live auctions in support of the Delta School District’s Performance Academy with Vancouver Opera, and Farm Roots Mini School. For patrons of the event, they received that and so much more.

In the early evening on Saturday, as the sun slipped down to the horizon, dozens of guests made the trek out to Boundary Bay to the Farm Roots Campus (formerly Boundary Bay Elementary). What had previously been a small school farm, was transformed into a twinkling display of lights and music under an enormous white tent. Strings of warm tungsten lights marked a path across the field, and the ubiquitous white tent opened up to a room filled with linen covered tables, candles, antique china, and furniture fit for an opera—which indeed it was.

Partnering with Vancouver Opera, local opera talents Leah Giselle and Martin Sadd regaled the crowd with a number of pieces. Clearly moved, the duo received a standing ovation from patrons.

“Who would ever think of combining farming and opera under a tent?” says Delta Superintendent Doug Sheppard. “Our staff has done a remarkable job bringing the Delta community together in celebration of our unique and dynamic programs. This has been a very special night for everyone.”

Over the course of the evening guests participated in silent and live auctions, called by local farmer and Delta South MLA Ian Paton in his iconic auctioneer style; and were treated to a multi course meal prepared by Urban Wood Fired Pizza, fresh potato leek soup made by the Delta Secondary culinary program, and smashed apple pie generously provided by White Spot.

“We purposely chose to hold the event next to the farm field where our students learn and where much of the food for the event grew. A year ago, it was blackberry bushes and deep grasses,” says Brooke Moore, District Principal of Inquiry and Innovation. “The tomatoes on the bruschetta and salad were picked a mere five hours before the event. The cantaloupe grew just next to the pumpkin patch over your shoulders. The peppers, cucumbers, basil and squash are from just over the fence. Farm Roots students—kids from all over Delta in grades 10, 11 and 12—come here every second day to learn the content and skills of their courses through the project of building and running a farm. It’s remarkable!”

To add a little “dirt” to the glamour of the candlelight, The Retrogrades, a local cover band, took to the stage and in short order had the crowd on its feet dancing.

“What people may not realize,” says Delta Board Chair Laura Dixon, “is that those guys rocking on that stage are our senior leadership team. We have such a committed, talented, and creative staff in Delta. What other District has a house band?”

Dixon adds that events like Dirt & Candlelight are important opportunities for the District to share its successes with the community, and share the importance of dynamic programming. “Programs like Farm Roots Mini School and the Performance Academy with Vancouver Opera are excelling at creating safe spaces for students,” she says.

“These programs are outside the box in terms of how we regularly get to do school,” says Paige Hansen, District Vice-Principal, Choice and Academy Programs. “We are offering something highly unique, through these programs, and are reaching communities beyond our classroom walls that we don’t normally get to interact with, and creating communities of learners that perhaps wouldn’t have found each other otherwise.”

The question on everyone’s lips at the end of the night—when is next year’s event?

Hansen laughs, “This event was borne out of a conversation Brooke and I had earlier this summer. We couldn’t be more pleased with how it all came together. The students, staff, and community have been so supportive. And yes, we are already thinking about how to make Dirt & Candlelight bigger and better for next year—so stay tuned!”

About the Programs

The Performance Academy with Vancouver Opera pairs students who love music and acting with Vancouver Opera’s Master Artists. Students get to attend dress rehearsals, backstage tours, and learn from working professionals in this multi-disciplinary art form. By the end of the program, unique to North America, students create their own show and perform at the VO’s Opera Festival, living their dreams in lights to cheering applause.

Farm Roots: A Ground Breaking Mini School invites students in Grades 10, 11 and 12 to take their learning to the land where they get hands-on with core subjects like science, social studies, and business. Through the process of building a farm and growing a sustainable business, students learn from local and global experts at no cost to them. Students can even earn first year university credit. Engaging, relevant, necessary learning for tomorrow’s world: this is what academic looks like.

Brooke Moore (left) and Paige Hansen are pleased Dirt & Candlelight highlighted a pair of unique programs offered by the Delta School District.
Photograph By ERAN SUDDS