Hold onto your boom box, Ashbury College takes partygoers on blast from the past

Partial proceeds from Ashbury Bash to support financial assistance program for deserving students of Ashbury College

OBJsocial photo from Ashbury Bash
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It was the perfect night to slip on a super-skinny tie, or perhaps get decked out in disco or grunge garb, before heading to the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past held Saturday in support of Ottawa co-ed private school Ashbury College.

A committee of parents pulled out all the stops to make sure the 300-plus attendees experienced that sweet, sweet nostalgia from bygone eras. Upon their arrival, Ashbury families, alumni, board members, event sponsors and staff made their way down a hallway filled with whimsical pop-culture scenes from the 1970s and onward, before reaching Maclaren Hall. That’s where all the action was. The student dining room area had been transformed into a temporary nightclub.

This was not the usual black-tie dinner that Ashbury hosts every fall; the school had already been there, done that back in the spring. Two formal galas in one year would have been a bit much, it felt. If anyone was going to wear lace gloves at the Ashbury Bash, it would have to be of the fingerless kind, à la 1980s Madonna.

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View from above of guests at the Ashbury Bash
More than 300 guests attended the Ashbury Bash: A Blast. from the Past, held at Ashbury College, a co-ed private school located in Rockcliffe Park, on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Heading up the Ashbury Bash committee was Jenny Shinder, a long-time member of the Ashbury College Guild, which is the school’s parent volunteer organization. She’s had three kids at Ashbury, with her youngest due to graduate the end of this school year.

The idea behind the Ashbury Bash was to host a celebration that offered a more relaxed feel, she told OBJ.social. “Our intention was just to make it fun with no speeches, no formal seating. We were just looking to shake it up and do something totally different and creative. We came up with this fun theme and have just been rolling with it,” said Shinder, whose personalized message in the evening program included a cute childhood photo of herself, circa 1979, rocking the bowl haircut.

The evening was organized by at least a couple dozen parent volunteers. The group worked exceptionally well together, said Shinder of how it took charge of such core elements as sponsorship, decor, food stations and the live auction. “It was divide and conquer,” said Shinder while praising the team for its “agreeable, easy-going, gung-ho” attitude. “We even had a play-list party, where everyone got together and we picked all the music for the night. Working with this group of people has just been phenomenal.”

Much of the memorabilia on display, from vinyl records and CDs, to board games and retro toys, to movie posters and old roller skates, had been retrieved from people’s basements and storage spaces.

Jenny Shinder and Gen Chanteloup
From left, Ashbury College parents Jenny Shinder, chair of the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past, and Gen Chanteloup, president of the Ashbury Guild, in Maclaren Hall for the event held Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Ashbury College head Norman Southward was there with his wife, university professor Anna Rumin. Her flashy attire came from the pop-up clothing boutiques that she previously helped to organize in support of Cornerstone Housing for Women.

A portion of the money raised from the Ashbury Bash goes toward the school’s growing commitment to improve access to education through its meaningful financial assistance program. Currently, about 12 per cent of the student body at Ashbury benefits from the program.

Among the alumni in attendance that night was Misko (Miskokijig) McGregor, who, until the age of 14, grew up in the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg reserve two hours north of Ottawa, near Maniwaki.

The young man received financial assistance when he attended Ashbury College, from Grade 10 through to Grade 12. Being a student of Ashbury, he said, broadened his academic horizons and opened up new opportunities.

“I always had aspirations to do more and to see where I could go and to push my boundaries, and Ashbury was all part of that experience,” explained McGregor, who graduated with a commerce degree from Queen’s University. He did a stint at KPMG and is now working as the manager of Indigenous financial literacy at Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) of Canada.

“Ashbury was one of the most valuable and foundational experiences of my life. I think a lot of the relationships that I have and relationships that I maintain, personally and professionally, stem from Ashbury.”

On the topic of diversity, McGregor said the school was very welcoming and respectful of his Indigenous culture. He said he continues to remain impressed with the collaborative work Ashbury College is doing with Indigenous communities in the spirit of truth and reconciliation.

shbury College graduate Misko (Miskokijig) McGregor with his mother, Valerie Plain, at the Ashbury Bash
Ashbury College graduate Misko (Miskokijig) McGregor with his mother, Valerie Plain, at the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past, held at Ashbury College on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Also in attendance from the school’s leadership were Ashbury Guild president Gen Chanteloup, Foundation board chair Hugh Scott, who’s executive director, strategic alliances, at Innovative Medicines Canada, and Ashbury College board of governors chair Dr. Melissa Forgie, senior vice dean at uOttawa’s faculty of medicine and vice president of medical education at The Ottawa Hospital.

Numerous businesses got behind the event, including co-presenting sponsors Sezlik.com, Hickman Specialist Group and Mercedes Benz, represented by Star Motors and Mercedes Benz Downtown Ottawa.

It was a night of crazy costume changes for professional emcee and live auctioneer Ryan Watson from Raising the Bid. He had a different getup for each decade.

Among the items that he sold that night were a gourmet dining extravaganza at Beckta, Mati, Riviera and Harmons Steakhouse; a trip for four to west coast Newfoundland; Howard Fine Jewellers diamond hoop earrings; a Nordik Spa weekend getaway for four; an Italian restaurant package from Vittoria Trattoria, Giovanni’s, Cantina Gia and North & Navy; and a United Arab Emirates embassy dinner for 10 to be hosted by Ambassador Fahad Saeed Al Raqbani and Abeer Al Jassim.

Top bidders included Sanjay Shah, CEO of ExecHealth, strategic management consultant Nadine Beaudin Sabine and Shinder’s husband, Jason Shinder, CEO of District Realty, which was also a sponsor.

volunteers pose at Ashbury Bash
Volunteers of the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past held at Ashbury College on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 gather in Maclaren Hall for a group photo. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ryan Watson on stage as emcee and live auctioneer.
Ryan Watson of Raising the Bid was back as emcee and live auctioneer of the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past, held at Ashbury College on Saturday, November 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Jean Teron, Norman Southward and Anna Rumin pose for a photo
Jean Teron is flanked by Ashbury College head Norman Southward and his wife, Anna Rumin, at the Ashbury Bash 2022: A Blast from the Past, held at the private school in Rockcliffe Park on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ashbury College parents pose for photo
From left, Ashbury College parents Stefanie Radcliffe, Natasha Trainor, Manish Sood, Amy Sood and Tim Radcliffe at the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past, held Saturday, November 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Dr. Sam Hickman and his wife, Chen Bian, pose for a photo.
A 1980s preppy looking Dr. Sam Hickman, prosthodontist at Hickman Specialist Group, and his wife, Chen Bian, at the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past, held at Ashbury College on Saturday, November 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Arnie Mierins, Tara-Leigh Mierins and Jeff Mierins pose for a photo.
From left, Arnie Mierins, dealer principal at Mercedes-Benz Ottawa Downtown, with Tara-Leigh Mierins and  her husband Jeff Mierins, dealer principal at Star Motors, at the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past, held at Ashbury College on Saturday, November 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Sean Murray, Charles Sezlik, and Craig Betts pose for a photo.
From left, Ashbury College alumni Sean Murray, president of Waterford Property Group, and Charles Sezlik, owner of Sezlik.com, with Craig Betts, founder of software company Solace and chairman of Algebraic Capital, at the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past, held at Ashbury College on Saturday, November 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
David Little and Andrea Johnson pose for a photo.
David Little, managing partner of the Ottawa office of Dentons, with his wife, Andrea Johnson, who’s also a partner at the law firm, at the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past, held at Ashbury College on Saturday, November 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Alex Taggart, Tracy Rait-Parkes, Scott Parkes, and Julie Taggart
From left, Alex Taggart, general counsel at Taggart Group of Companies, with Tracy Rait-Parkes and Scott Parkes, president at Tamarack Homes/Tartan Homes, and Julie Taggart, president of Taggart Realty Management, at the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past, held at Ashbury College on Saturday, November 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Neil Malhotra and Jason Shinder
From left, Neil Malhotra, CFO at Claridge Homes, with Jason Shinder, CEO of District Realty, at the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past, held at Ashbury College on Saturday, November 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Dr. Melissa Forgie and Steven Williams
Ashbury College board of governors chair Dr. Melissa Forgie with her partner, Steven Williams, law partner at Emond Harnden LLP, at the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past, held at Ashbury College on Saturday, November 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Tom Manley, Marie Boivin, Dr. Bella Mehta and Sanjar Shah.
From left, Tom Manley, chairman of Solace, with consultant Marie Boivin, and Dr. Bella Mehta and Sanjay Shah, CEO of ExecHealth, at the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past, held at Ashbury College on Saturday, November 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Leigh Harris and Jeff Hill
Leigh Harris, partner at KPMG Canada, with her husband, Jeff Hill from BMO Nesbitt Burns, at the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past, held at Ashbury College on Saturday, November 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Norman Southward, Anna Rumin, Hugh Scott and Sally Scott
From left, Ashbury College head Norman Southward and his wife, Anna Rumin, with Ashbury Foundation board chair Hugh Scott and his partner Sally Scott at the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past, held at Ashbury College on Saturday, November 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Shannon Coombs, Kevin Bon and Blair Dickerson
From left, Ashbury College parents Shannon Coombs, president of the Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association, CIBC Wood Gundy’s Kevin Bon and Blair Dickerson at the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Nadine Beaudin Sabine, Sarah Grand, Natalie Raffoul and Carrie Cuhaci
From left, strategic management consultant Nadine Beaudin Sabine with Sarah Grand (Engel & Völkers), lawyer Natalie Raffoul (Brion Raffoul LLP) and Carrie Cuhaci (Rideau Sports Centre) at the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past, held at Ashbury College on Saturday, November 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ryan Watson
Ryan Watson from Raising the Bid — on stage in 1980s costume — was the emcee and live auctioneer of the Ashbury Bash: A Blast from the Past, held at Ashbury College on Saturday, November 19, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips

caroline@obj.ca

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