BHS Development Group hosts annual fundraiser at Gather


On Monday, April 15, 2024, the Berkeley High School Development Group (BHSDG) hosted one of their biggest fundraisers of the year at Gather, a restaurant in Downtown Berkeley, with about 130 people in attendance. 

The BHSDG funds many programs and events at Berkeley High School, which includes free tutoring, college support services, and classroom supplies for teachers and students. The BHSDG also provides grants to student-run groups for events like the BHS sustainable fashion show or the BHS film festival.

Sloane Morgan, a Berkeley Unified School District board member who helped to organize the event, said, “I’m really inspired because  the (BHSDG) offers donations for both big and small things, and they’re flexible.”

The BHSDG operates primarily upon funding from their fundraisers and donations. The annual fundraising event at Gather is one of their biggest sources of funding, along with the annual Fund and Spring Match Campaign. Gather has now hosted a development group for three years. Sponsors raise money to help offset the cost of food. For admission to the event, the BHSDG sells tickets and the profit goes directly towards the group. 

Gather served pizzas, fresh salad, drinks from the bar, and cookies to everyone who bought a ticket in their indoor seating area. 

First, several board members spoke and shared a quote which represents the mission of the board: “Educators will not maximize school outcomes for their most marginalized populations until they begin to better understand how the social emotional well-being of students profoundly influences learning.” 

They continued by talking about their support and success of the BHS Wellness Center which opened last semester and helped hundreds of students. 

Dacher Keltner, a UC Berkeley psychology professor and co-founder of the Greater Good Science Center, was the keynote speaker of the event. He spoke on the importance of feeling awe which was the topic of his latest book, “Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life.”  

  In his speech, Keltner argued that it is important for humans to feel awe. In a study he conducted in 2003,  Keltner found that humans feel awe an average of two to three times a week. However, Keltner believes kids aren’t experiencing enough mystery and awe in their lives. He quoted Albert Einstein, who testified the importance of awe: “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.” Keltner also explained that awe is good for your physical health because it activates your vagus nerve, which helps you breathe, can slow your heart down, and reduce inflammation in your body.  

He explained how some humans find awe. He first explained the concept of moral beauty. 

“Humans have a transcendent ability to find beauty and other people’s courage and kindness, like overcoming poverty, racism, and violence,” said Keltner. 

Audience member Yasmin Navarro, a college counselor at BHS, told a story she experienced about moral beauty.  “I was in high school and my mother was making about nine thousand dollars a year,” said Navarro. “My economics teachers, without me knowing, got together with all of my other teachers and bought me a refurbished Dell laptop.” 

Keltner also argued that music and religion can also elicit awe. He explained a simple way to find awe is through music and competitive sports that he said offer “deep wisdom.”

Keltner also pointed to nature as a way to elicit awe. Jasdeep Malhi, a BHS intervention counselor, recounted a boat trip she took in San Francisco Bay to whale watch with several BHS students who had recently experienced loss of a friend. 

She was standing with a kid and sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge and he said to her, “Thank you so much for (this opportunity), I didn’t realize how much I needed this until we came out here. I have never been on a boat.” Malhi continued by saying, “It is because of the Development Group, because of your donations, and because of your generosity. That is how we give these kids opportunities.”

In 2023, around $10,600 from the BHSDG went to supporting diverse communities and enrichment activities. Lissa Franklin, a BHSDG member, encourages people to continue to interact with the group to make opportunities like this happen. 

“We’re only as good as the people that participate,” Franklin said,  “Both students and parents, we like to learn about what the priorities are at the school.”