Unlike spring proms that are limited to a school’s graduating seniors, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League‘s Junior Symphony Ball provides an opportunity for area high school sophomores, juniors and seniors to come together for a mega fundraiser with music, dancing, games, and G-rated beverages. This year’s sold-out event at Gilley’s Dallas for 2,600 students from 35 schools turned out to be the largest in the JSB’s history. No surprise. After all, there were 600 on the steering committee (including Margot McKenny) alone! Needless to say, the resident mechanical bull got a workout, thanks to guests like Drew Richardson. Keeping an eye on this gargantuan get-together were parents like Christine McKenny and Lesley and Burton Rhodes. Here’s a report from the field:
The highly anticipated 65th annual Junior Symphony Ball was sold out weeks before the event. 2,600 high school students from 35 schools attended the fundraiser on Saturday, February 4, at Gilley’s. With 600 Steering Committee members and 2000 individual students, it was the largest event to date.
The JSB’s “Purpose with a Party” was a student-led fundraiser which brought together high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors to celebrate an evening filled with live music featuring Drake Milligan and DJ Souljah, dancing, professionally staffed gaming tables, raffles, prizes and refreshments – and a mechanical bull.
The 2023 co-chairs who worked tirelessly planning and organizing the party were Episcopal School of Dallas’ Will Searcy, Highland Park High School’s Mary Ellen Schoellkopf, The Hockaday School’s Sydney Hoyl, Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas’ Dylan Gibbons, Parish Episcopal School’s Alexa Plumlee, St. Mark’s School Of Texas’ Bowden Slates and Ursuline Academy’s Alexandra Paredes.
Proud parents are Kristi and Ron Hoyl, Courtney and Mike Plumlee, Amanda and Thomas Paredes, Ginny and Conner Searcy, Karen and Allen Schoellkopf, Karen and Christopher Gibbons and Paige and John Slates.
“The co-chairs did an outstanding job to ensure the success of this year’s event,” said Alex’s mom Courtney Plumlee. “Most importantly, they helped educate their peers that JSB is “A Purpose with A Party.” The proceeds have a significant role providing arts education programs and instruments to many local students in our community.”
Participating high schools include Alcuin School, Bishop Lynch, Booker T. Washington, Cambridge, Cistercian, Episcopal School of Dallas, Greenhill, Highland Park, Hillcrest, Hockaday, Jesuit, John Paul II, Lake Highlands, Parish Episcopal, Shelton, St. Mark’s of Texas, Ursuline Academy, Woodrow Wilson, Lakehill Preparatory School, Bishop Dunne, Convenant, Prestonwood, and Trinity Christian Academy.
Jesuit senior Luke Lange was seen at the step and repeat pointing to the logo of his non-profit Luke’s Fastbreaks which was featured along with other event sponsors. Luke was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age nine and spent two years in and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices. Hospital gowns did not give privacy and clothes had to be removed for simple procedures. As a result, he created colorful t-shirts with snaps down both sides enabling easy access to ports, IVs and lines. The nonprofit is dedicated to donating medical shirts to children who need them, free of charge. Young patients look and feel normal, brightening their hospital stays, and helping their healing process. Luke will be attending McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas next year.
Music has always been the heart and soul of JSB through the years. This year’s impressive lineup featured highly acclaimed DJ Souljah and emerging country artist Drake Milligan.
DJ Souljah is the renown DJ from Japan who is in high demand across the globe. The spin-doctor rocked the house with diverse music that ranged from contemporary and old school country, rock, and hip hop. He cut, mixed, and blended a little bit of everything.
The featured musical artist was Drake Milligan, an electrifying entertainer who is packing Country fans into clubs nationwide night after night on tour. The Fort Worth native is an actor and singer best known for portraying Elvis Presley on the CMT series “Sun Records” and starred in a film called “Nobody” where he portrayed a young teen Elvis. The 24-year-old burst onto the national music stage entering the Billboard Emerging Artists Chart at #5 after dominating iTunes. He has a unique style of traditional yet timely Country. Milligan’s debut album, “Dallas/Fort Worth” was released on September 15, 2022. He has earned high praise from “People,” “USA Today,” “Parade,” “American Songwriter,” CMT.com, Billboard, KTLA, “Hollywood Life,” “Fort Worth Weekly,” “Sounds Like Nashville” and “Taste of Country.”
Other event sponsors were Trive Capital, Stonelake Capital, Platinum Homes by Mark Molthan, Sewell, Ben E. Keith Company, Hilltop Holdings, Highland Park Village, Gilley’s Dallas, Mister Tuxedo and Haynsworth Classic American Portraiture.
The JSB is the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League’s longest running fundraiser. It was founded with the concept of “student-led, parent-guided” leadership. While JSB has evolved in scope and participation size, it has always been a high school student fundraising event for the DSO hosted by area 10th-12th grade high school students and their parents. JSB has grown over the decades from just a handful of participating schools to over 35 this year. Last year’s event raised a record amount of $446,000.
* Photo provided by Dallas Symphony Orchestra League