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March, 26 2010 - ACCEL "3rd Annual Mardi Gras Gala - All That Jazz"

What: Hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, silent auction, cool jazz, hot jazz and dancing

Where: McCormick Ranch Golf Club

When: March 26, 2010

Time: 6:00 PM

Ticket Prices: $100 per person

Beneficiary: Funds raised are used in building projects, campus enhancements, technology and professional development at ACCEL

Gala Chairperson(s): Angela Pacheco (event chairwoman)

Executive Director: Connie Laird

Welcome: Angela Pacheco

Sponsors: GALA CONTRIBUTORS: CELEBRATION SPONSORS: Mrs. Andrea Laird-Coleman, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Lautiero, Mr Bruce Shapiro/Arizona Partners; TABLE HOST SPONSORS: Ms. Connie Laird & Mr. Lance Witte, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Klag; DECOR SPONSOR: Mr. & Mrs. John Pacheco, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Hrudka; MARDI GRAS GALA: Alliant Insurance, Ms. Lennie Andrews

Quote of the evening: "Tonight is our 30th year anniversary in special education excellence in Arizona." (Angela Pacheco)

Menu: SALAD: Panko crusted prawns bedded on mixed field greens w rustic cut crudites garni Louis sauce; MAIN COURSE: Blackened beef tenderloin medallions, sauce bearnaise; VEGETARIAN ENTREE: Pasta w Cajun alfredo sauce; DESSERT: Bread pudding w rum sauce

Attendance: 150

Information: Gail Curran - 602-926-7211

Blacktie Photos by: Benn Smith for Blacktie-Arizona

 Ginnie & Tim Schmitt
Ginnie & Tim Schmitt
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By Myra Richman


ACCEL celebrated its 30th Anniversary of Special Education Excellence by hosting a Charity Golf Tournament "fore" Special Kids Friday, March 25, ending Saturday, March 26, with the 3rd Annual Mardi Gras Gala "All That Jazz!" event--at the McCormick Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale. 


ACCEL (Arizona Centers for Comprehensive Education and Life-Skills) began its journey as a small school for students on one campus in Phoenix, and has grown to a multi-faceted organization serving children and adults with special needs on multiple campuses in Maricopa County. 


The tented area was cleverly decorated with jazzy themes where guests bid on auction items, enjoyed refreshments and dinner, Broadway songs, award presentations and dancing.  Director of Quality Management, Marge Cook, was presented with a beautiful pendant designed by Schmitt jewelers, to celebrate her 30 years with ACCEL.


Later, a one-of-a-kind necklace was presented to a surprised Connie Laird, executive director, for her dedication to the organization.  Connie was recently named Executive of the Year by the National Association of Private Special Education Centers (NAPSEC) for her outstanding contributions and innovations in the development of programs and services benefiting children and adults with special needs.


A touching film showed kids in class, expressing themselves with enthusiasm and  delight.  My table mate 'Master teacher' Kristel Morgan showed her overwhelming love of her work and her students, as she watched the film with 'happy' tears.


In August 2009 ACCEL received National Accreditation, making it the only private school of its kind in Arizona, to hold such a prestigious honor.  The National Commission for the Accreditation of Special Education Services (NCASES) provides an accreditation process specifically designed to review and evaluate private special education programs to assure the continued improvement and highest quality of education for students with special needs.


BISTÅ Autism Center, a new Division of ACCEL, opened its doors in July 2009.  The center is located on Metro Campus and it is quickly becoming a national voice of empowerment for parents, teachers, legislators and caregivers for children with neurobiological disorders, while providing cutting-edge behavioral intervention, diagnosis and treatment for the growing population of individuals with autism.


ACCEL is a 501(C) (3) non-profit organization, providing educational, therapeutic and vocational programs to children and adults with special needs, giving them the necessary skills to learn, work and live with dignity and independence. Students and clients are taught the necessary skills to transform their abilities and disabilities into possibilities.

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