1,300 show up to annual Pancake Breakfast fundraiser

May 20, 2023 — by Anika Kapasi
Pancake Breakfast aims to raise money for SMB and brings the Saratoga community together through music.
Joyous musical performances were held in the quad, music building and large gym from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to raise money for Saratoga music programs. 

The audience lit up at the sound of familiar rhythms from “That’s the Way You Want It” and “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey as the Redwood Middle and Saratoga High combined orchestras closed out Pancake Breakfast on April 30.

With over 1,300 attendees this year including performers, the annual Pancake Breakfast fundraiser — hosted by Saratoga Music Boosters (SMB) — featured performances from over 400 students from the schools’ bands, orchestras and choirs in addition to the high school’s winter percussion, color guard and jazz combo. 

“We want to celebrate the [middle schoolers] because they have fewer performances than [the high school] does,” music director Michael Boitz said. “I love the aspect of parents getting to see the full circle — middle schoolers all the way to seniors. It’s one of the only times of the year that we get to see that.”

Tickets were priced at $20 online until April 9; from April 10 and onwards, prices were $25 online and at the door. Organizers weren’t yet able to disclose how much money they had raised at the end, but the annual pancake breakfast goes back to at least the 1970s and is always a key component of keeping local public school music programs financially healthy.

While access to all performances was free, the ticket allowed attendees to indulge in fresh pancakes flipped by “local celebrities.”

Those celebrities included former mayor Howard Miller, who has been an annual attendee for several years, Foothill Elementary principal Joe Bosco and SHS principal Greg Louie. The high school marching band’s 2022-23 drum majors, seniors Petr Tupitsyn and Allison Okuno and junior Gabriel Shyh, also flipped pancakes during the event.

In addition to serving pancakes, SMB raffled off items such as an iPad Mini, an iPhone 14 Pro, two 49er tickets, a Mandala Gift Certificate and ten Ceremony Tea vouchers. The boosters also put together a silent auction of 120 items to raise money for the music programs. Listings varied from a spa day gift pack to lunch with principal Louie or a private performance by Jazz Combo. 

The event was organized by parent volunteers and Pancake Breakfast event co-chairs, Mrudula Prashant and Alicia de Fuentes, who planned all aspects of the event such as the raffle and silent auction, while coordinating all volunteers.

“These parents work full time, yet still find the time to continue volunteering and to help put this event together,” Boitz said. “To me, that speaks volumes about how the community feels about the youth and their  education, and I am always humbled because the volunteers are putting that much effort for the students.”

With a large number of parents and community members supporting the program, Boitz continues to find pride in the impact students are able to have on those in their community to refuel a collective love for music. 

For Boitz, the “joy of coming together” was the most meaningful part of the event: He loved seeing that attendees, whether they were parents, alumni or old volunteers, were able to connect with each other through music.

“Obviously, Pancake Breakfast is a fundraiser, but these [types of events] are about our students and the growth of music and education,” Boitz said. “And with the notion that many people are in STEM careers [in our area], they still believe in the teaching of the humanities, arts and culture which speaks volumes to the community we have built.”

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