Scripps College is a small women's college, under a thousand students, which was founded in 1926 and has become a bulwark of women's higher education in this city and the nation. This top-ranked liberal arts college is the women's college of the Claremont College Group in the Valley. Founded in the belief that women of all means deserve access to a high-quality education, in the current U.S. News &World Report rankings Scripps is 23rd among American liberal arts colleges and the third-ranking women's college in the country! High school counselors placed Scripps sixth in the nation for "best undergraduate education," tied with Smith, Vassar, Amherst. I am told by those who know these things that the college is one of the best for 'college value,' receiving praise for excellent academics, low sticker price, and generous financial aid. Linda Scott of President's Office holds actual award at Bouchon party.
So it was with some awe that the college received word it had been selected to receive the National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award - the highest recognition for youth-oriented programs. And they accepted it recently at The White House from First Lady Michelle Obama. It seems that about ten years ago, a group of faculty members and alumni decided to set up the Scripps College Academy, a free year-round college-readiness program for high-achieving young women in the greater L.A. area, 90% of whom are the first in their families to attend college, to excel in the college or university of their choice. One of these girls, a young black woman now a graduate going off to medical school, told me last night, "I had never even stepped foot on a college campus before they took me into this group and showed me - by an intense preparation program - what exactly was involved for a girl like me going to college. I was scared but excited, and all of the teachers and students helped walk me through the process to get ready emotionally and physically for a college education." This program now serves more than 350 students each year, and the payoff has been spectacular! 100% of last year's high school seniors who were SCA scholars were accepted to four-year colleges and universities.... including Yale, Wellesley, Stanford, Brown, and of course Scripps. Bouchon Exec Chef Rory Herrmann greets Scripps guests in his kitchen.
So how did Jay Weston get involved? It seems that Scripps President Lori Bettison-Varga wanted to have a thank-you event for all of the people who were involved in their winning this prestigious award, and she asked friend Caroline Graham for a suggestion of a venue. And Caroline called me, the restaurant maven.... and I had what I do admit was a brilliant idea. I am friendly with all of the people behind the stunningly successful BOUCHON BISTRO in Beverly Hills, the latest arrow in Thomas Keller's quiver of fine eating places. I called Executive Chef Rory Herrmann, Keller's fiancée Laura Cunningham, and others on the staff, and laid out the situation. Not too much money, a fabulous coterie of guests who will probably never have been to the restaurant... and a really, really good cause. The Bouchon group stepped up way beyond my expectations... "We'll close the restaurant (for the first time!) for two hours on Wedneday, Feb. 16, and the 240 guests will have free access to the dining room, patios..and all of the kitchen and bake areas. They can go into the kitchen, pick up freshly-prepared food from the cooks, and even join with the bakers in preparing the famous Bouchon baguettes." (And Bouchon cut its party price to a ridiculous low; their contribution to higher education for women.) Guests were invited to bake their own baguettes in the Bouchon bakery.
It was one of the most successful such parties I have ever attended. Luanne Wells, widow of Warner's Frank Wells and a Scripps alumni, said 'This was a real party, fun and different. So successful, and for such a good cause." Amen.
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