SeneGALA Successful After a Year of Challenges


Fatimah Khan

Club advisor Amary Seck speaks at the annual SeneGALA to a crowd of students and families.

Kate Boswell, Spotlight Page Director

Students For Senegal has been an influential club for the Mamaroneck community for over ten years and is a club that many Mamaroneck students are eager to join. The club is devoted to helping expand access to education, empowering women and girls, and creating more opportunities for those in Senegal. Each year, the club holds a gala, titled the SeneGALA, to celebrate their progress and to fundraise for future events and projects to help those in Senegal. Just over a year ago, the Learning Center in Senegal, which the club helped to fund through events such as the gala, was opened. Despite the pandemic, the club has continued their work and pushed through the obstacles to have a successful year. They were able to start the LIC, the Lambaye Innovation Challenge, which helped to connect those in Lambaye to those here at Mamaroneck High School and raised over $14,000 with an event called Strides for Senegal in the fall. The money raised helped the club to continue their work with those in Senegal over the past year. The SeneGALA is their spring event and the club was hoping to make around $20,000 in donations to help them continue their work. 

The SeneGALA is a club favorite and has been very successful in years past. In 2020, because of the pandemic, the gala was unable to happen and the club had to work hard in order to find a safer way to celebrate and fundraise. One of the club presidents, Alex Boswell (‘21) described what he missed from the club last year. Boswell says, “I missed coming together and seeing all the great people and families involved in the club and the impact the club has on the community.” This year, the club presidents, members of the adult board, and faculty advisor, Amary Seck, worked together to create a COVID-19-safe gala. The gala took place on June 2nd, outside at the Town Annex field. “We wanted to create an event for people to celebrate after what has been a hard year and to have people come together to some degree,” says Boswell.

To complete these goals, the club had to work to create a COVID-19-safe event, find an outdoor venue, find auction items, sell tickets, and find food donors (among everything else). To accomplish this, club members and presidents split into smaller groups. One of the groups worked to find a location, another worked to find a caterer, one was focused on promotion, and the last group worked alongside community members and businesses to find fun items for people to bid on during the auction. These items included a performance from the local band Summerfeet, tickets to sports games or magic shows, themed baskets, and many other incredible prizes. To sell tickets, the club took to their social media pages, hung posters around school, and had family and friends spread the word! Finally, food was provided by a local spot in town, The Apiary. 

The gala was an overall success. The weather held out and the club’s hard work paid off. They were able to host an exciting evening full of delicious food, fun prizes, and an intense live auction. The field was adorned with lights and other decorations and the students who were able to travel to Senegal in 2020 wore their traditional Senegalese clothing, which added a genuine and heartfelt ambiance to the night. Katie Rotherham (‘21) explained how “everyone enjoyed the picnic-like theme with boxed dinners on their Students for Senegal blankets.” Once the event started and people had settled down, the club presidents, Alex Boswell (‘21), Riley McMullen (‘21), Calle Harwin (‘21), and Katie Rotherham (‘21) all spoke about their experiences as presidents and the accomplishments they made this past year. Amary Seck and Lauren Levinson, devoted leaders of the club, also gave speeches and spoke about their roles and experiences in the club. Rotherham also explained how “the evening’s highlight was watching a video encompassing our trip to Senegal in February of 2020 and the opening of the Lambaye Learning Center and the Lambaye Innovation Challenge and all that we have accomplished in the past year.” According to the presidents, the gala went smoothly and everyone was very happy since they surpassed their fundraising goal of $20,000. The money raised is going to help the new preschool in Lambaye at the Learning Center; it will help fund any needed equipment and pay the teachers. Alex Boswell looked back on the event explaining how “it was nice to see the amount of people that turned up and to see how happy Mr. Seck was. It made me happy to see everyone, especially him, having a good time.” 

The gala did not only offer a fun experience for community members, but had a major impact for the learning center in Lambaye as well. As the club’s largest fundraiser, a significant amount  of funding for the club and Learning Center comes from the gala. It is an important way for people in the community to see the great work that is being done for Senegal and it helps people to stay in the loop about the club. Though the SeneGALA is the club’s last event of the school year, Students for Senegal is excited and looking forward to a new school year that will hold a lot of opportunity.