Yards of fun, miles of opportunity

Dragon. Photo by Ralph Stewart
A dragon made its way around the dining room, signaling the start of the festivities. Photo by Ralph Stewart

By Anna Marie D'Addarie - February 2, 2006

The Yard benefit dinner and auction last Saturday was much more than the standard bill-o-fare. The theme, "A Chinese New Year Celebration," provided a dramatic backdrop, transforming the Wharf Restaurant in Edgartown into a red and gold palace. The guests who filled the restaurant for the sold-out event were there to support two very important Yard projects, the Artist-In-Residence and the Multicultural programs. Both programs are brought into Island schools and benefit our children in many ways. Wiet Bacheller, the dinner's co-chairperson, said of the two programs, "The Yard has reached thousands of children over the years." Ms. Bacheller not only helped to organize the event with her husband John and former executive director DiAnn Ray, but the Bachellers cooked all the Chinese food that was served to a most appreciative crowd. Giving most of the credit for the evening's tremendous success to "a terrific team," Ms. Bacheller said that her husband John and the kitchen staff were the unsung heroes.

This is the third year the Yard has hosted a Chinese New Year fundraiser. Each year the event gets bigger and more money is raised to fund both school programs. The Artist-In-Residence program sends a dance artist into one school each year, on a rotating basis, for almost

a month. The artist spends time with every student and two classes are picked for additional focus. These two classes join the artist in a final performance. All aspects of the artist's dance specialty, from the history to the performance, are part of the program, as well as any other skills the artist may have.

The Multicultural program is brought to all the elementary schools each year. Past programs have included dancers from West Africa, India, Japan, Bali, Spain, and other countries. In some schools, the program is an opportunity for cross-curriculum participation. Even the cafeteria staffs prepare special lunches in honor of the visiting guests. When schedules allow, a public performance in the evening brings the artist and his or her work to a larger Island audience.

These two programs are important to the schools, which is why the Bachellers, who both have long ties to Island education, work so hard to raise funds. The guests and volunteers at Saturday's event included many Island teachers as well as former students who benefited from the programs. Ms. Bacheller's passion for the program's continued success was evident as she made the rounds from table to table, thanking everyone for their help. She said the evening was "a great success" because of the generous community, especially the businesses who give so much to many different organizations. The same can be said of the Bachellers.