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Cartner’s Last Night at the Cafe

Longtime Conifer Instrumental Director Leads Last Major Fundraiser
Erich Bohn
Cartner prepares to open the evening by directing the first song played at the Night at the Cafe. Plans for the Night at the Cafe to continue under Laura Sarché are in place, allowing for the event to continue after Cartner’s departure, with several students already having made preparations. “I want to do more volunteering next year for the Night at the Cafe,” sophomore Maggie Sullivan said. “Serving, prepping food and stuff like that.”

As the Conifer High School Chamber Orchestra prepares to play, the Jazz Club waits for its turn. Sean Cartner, the director of both groups, leads his students for his fifth, and final, “Night at the Cafe” fundraiser event at Our Lady of the Pines before he departs CHS for Bear Creek. Through this event, both ensembles are able to raise thousands of dollars needed in order to continue the running of the Conifer High School music programs. The Night at the Cafe is an annual tradition for both the Chamber Orchestra and the Jazz Club and was started by Cartner during his first year at CHS in 2018. It is expected to continue beyond his departure from the school as it is the largest fundraiser for both groups in the whole school year.

“In the past, it’s been about 75 to 125 people attending, but with the venue change, there’s a little more space,” instrumental music director Sean Cartner said. 

Items sold at the Night at the Cafe´s silent auction, which went from 6 pm to 7:30 pm and was one of several different activities. These activities included a cash bar for adults, dessert provided by local families, free music provided by the Chamber Orchestra and the Jazz Club, and more. “I saw there was some wine, a DJ, a Photo Booth thing, and even Staples gift cards on auction,” sophomore Otto Pace said. (Erich Bohn)

The event had the highest Night at the Cafe turnout in its five-year history, with around 150 people attending, generating around $3000 in admissions alone for both programs, allowing Cartner to end his last Night at the Cafe with a record-breaking attendance.

“It’s getting the Conifer community together with a fundraiser,” sophomore Otto Pace said. “It’s great for everyone and it raises money for the bands.”

Cartner joined the Conifer High School team in 2018, and he plans to leave at the end of the semester for a position at Bear Creek. Students of both the Jazz Club and the Chamber Orchestra have had experiences with the replacement Orchestra director, Laura Sarche, at West Jefferson Middle School. The Jazz Club’s replacement director, however, is still unknown.

“I’m definitely sad about this being my last [Night at the Cafe] because it has been one of the more exciting events we do throughout the school year so I would say this is bittersweet,” Cartner said. “Hopefully we can create some new traditions for the new director.”

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