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Mountain Mayhem: Woodsy chic

May Selby
Mountain Mayhem
The Wildwood School board in their "into the wild" wear.
May Selby

When the dress code calls for “woodsy chic,” you can safely assume the benefit you’re attending is bound to be a fun and festive occasion — and one with flair. Such was the case for the Wildwood School’s annual gala held Friday, March 6, at the Hotel Jerome.

For those who aren’t familiar with Wildwood, it truly is a treasure in a natural setting, situated just a few miles up Independence Pass, nestled in the woods and surrounded by beaver ponds, willows and evergreens. Its mission of creating “a happy, caring and nurturing preschool dedicated to environmental exploration and artistic expression,” encourages children to learn and appreciate their environs.

It also meshes quite well with the “Into the Woods” theme of their popular fundraiser. For the well-attended benefit, many women wore floral patterned dresses or shirt-and-skirt combinations with flower crowns while the gents went a bit more Western, sporting oxfords and trousers, suede or leather jackets and a few even donned cowboy hats.

The evening began with handcrafted cocktails and apps in the Antler Bar, a silent auction in the ballroom then a buffet dinner, live auction and dancing. Wildwood parent Mandy Welgos was the MC and auctioneer, raising the bar on exciting travel packages and adventures up for bid.

While this year’s event may have been a great success, it was also a bit bittersweet, serving as a ceremonial farewell to outgoing executive director Becky Helmus who is retiring after a 39-year tenure there. She arrived at the school in 1981 and, surprisingly, given the demands of running a preschool for nearly four decades, hasn’t aged a day. She looked as youthful and radiant as ever as she stood at the front of the room during dinner, expressing immense gratitude for the opportunity to lead generations of students and sharing pearls of wisdom from her years in preschool education. Several gems that resonated with me were to “Stop and smell the roses, celebrate everything that makes children special, go to their games and practices and recitals and just be there for them.” Also, to remember “children keep it joyful, real, honest and fun. And their random acts of kindness are the most meaningful.”

Becky closed with a quote from “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.” “Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as all applauded her for her lovingness and leadership.


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