St. Mary’s Academy hosted its annual auction April 9, and supporters stepped forward with more than $1 million in donations.

The money will go toward scholarships and other student needs at the Catholic school for girls.

Guests gathered in person at the Oregon Convention Center, which was done up in neon glamor. Items for auction included a week’s stay in Paris and a South African safari.

“It was a magical night filled with incredible generosity, support, excitement and fun,” said Emily Niedermeyer Becker, a 1986 graduate and vice president for development.

This year’s five auction co-chairs were all St. Mary’s Academy moms, including Heidi Bell, mom to first-year student Caroline; Wendy Chan, mom to first-year student Mia; Mechell Hansen, mom to senior Grace and first-year student Amelia; Kim Patterson, mom to sophomore Jenna and incoming student Alex; and Jennifer Wallenberg, mom to first-year-student Madeline.

“Having a St. Mary’s education in today’s world is so important for developing students into powerful, compassionate and contributing members of a community,” said Chan. “St. Mary’s helps young women discover their passions, know themselves and use their voices to effectuate change for the better.”

Ashley Whitty, a 2002 graduate, and Caitlin Whitty, a 2008 graduate, credited St. Mary’s for molding them into the leaders and educators they are today. As mothers of girls, Ashley, a St. Mary’s English teacher, and Caitlin, director of service, know firsthand the challenges facing young women in today’s world. For the Whitty sisters, working at St. Mary’s is a chance to give back to their school and make a meaningful social investment.

This year’s event included a champagne toast and tribute to President Christina Friedhoff who will be retiring at the end of this school year after 30 years of service.

“Throughout my entire career at St. Mary’s Academy, my efforts were sustained and inspired by my deep belief in the potential of young women,” Friedhoff said. “That belief motivated me to want to do my best each and every day to distinguish the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary’s mission of all-female Catholic education.”

Located in downtown Portland, St. Mary's Academy is the state's oldest continuously-operating school and the only all-girls school. Founded in 1859 by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, it enrolls 660 students in grades 9-12.