Hitting a High Note

At 29th annual gala, Pops on the Heights raises a record $14.5 million for student support.

Rain threatened the Chestnut Hill campus of Boston College on Friday evening, September 24, but nothing could dampen the spirits of those gathered in Conte Forum for the 29th annual Barbara and Jim Cleary Scholarship Gala, better known as Pops on the Heights.

There was ample cause for celebration as the festive event reached a new milestone: a remarkable $14.5 million raised to benefit student scholarships. In its history, Pops on the Heights donors have supported more than 3,500 BC scholarships. These generous benefactors join the thousands of alumni, parents, and friends who have carried BC’s Be a Beacon campaign for financial aid past the $170 million mark on the way to its goal of $200 million.

During the show, Pops 2021 co-chairs Patti and Jonathan Kraft, P’24 cheered the sell-out crowd of benefactors, alumni, friends, students, and their family members for their historic support. “We are so fortunate to have your enthusiasm for a timeless event that has done so much good over the years,” said Jonathan Kraft.  

As is tradition, the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, led by conductor Keith Lockhart, was the star of the show, dazzling the audience with selections ranging from the classic “St. Louis Blues” to U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Joining the Pops on stage were student members of the University Chorale of Boston College under the direction of John Finney, and the “Screaming Eagles” Marching Band directed by David Healey, as well as student soloist Grace Collins ’22. The international studies major from Providence, Rhode Island, performed “The Man That Got Away” from A Star is Born. 

Pop superstars Train joined the Pops and closed out the show with a joyful set featuring a series of hits from their celebrated catalog, including “Drops of Jupiter,” “Hey Soul Sister,” and “Calling All Angels.” The latter proved a fitting tribute to the thousands whose investments in BC students would reap dividends now and for generations to come. 

Pops on the Heights anchored a jubilant Family Weekend at BC, which drew more than 12,000 parents and family members to campus to spend time with their students and reconnect with the University. The record-setting momentum of Friday night carried into a picture-perfect fall football Saturday capped by a thrilling overtime win for the undefeated Eagles over Missouri.

“We like to think of our generous supporters as beacons who light a path for deserving students to come to Boston College.” said Jim Husson, senior vice president for university advancement. “This weekend, they propelled BC to not just one but two great victories!”

Beacon Staff

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