Carp-a-Cabana Honors Teacher Elise Unruh
Elise Unruh may not be ready for her closeup, but the community has been waiting more than
30 years to shine the spotlight on the leading lady of Carpinteria Unified School District’s
Performing Arts program. At the Carpinteria Education Foundation’s 27th
on Sept. 7, the wait will be over.
Unruh said she is flattered by the honor, but the 2019 Crystal Apple Awardee added, “More
importantly, I’m thrilled that CEF chose to support our Performing Arts programs. Their efforts
have enriched the lives and contributed to the academic success of countless CUSD students
over the years. I am looking forward to working with them to enhance our resources for the
Performing Arts classes at CHS.”
Part fundraiser, part recognition ceremony, and 100 percent benefitting the students of
Carpinteria Unified School District, Carp-a-Cabana will be staged for a Havana Nights show.
Headlining the menu are barbecue pork tenderloin with chimichurri, citrus chicken, black
beans, mojitos, Cuba libres, Rincon Brewery beers, and wine. Music along with live and silent
auctions round out the evening’s entertainment. Stars of the A-list dessert auction include
Rori’s, Zookers, and Renaud’s. In addition to auctioning desserts, guests will bid on a 4-Night
Stay at a private cabin in Big Bear, Disneyland tickets, Malibu Wine Safari Weekend, Santa
Barbara International Film Festival Getaway, and a 4-Night trip to see a Broadway show in NYC
(this is a partial list).
“Elise is a gem and one of our most respected teachers in CUSD. For decades, she has directed
both Carpinteria Middle School and Carpinteria High School bands, orchestra, choir, and
MUSES, transforming generations of students by believing in the power of the performing arts
to enrich their lives," said Diana Rigby, superintendent of the school district.
Noted Casey Balch, CEF board president, “We’re excited to support the arts and to honor Elise.
She has contributed so much to the students and the district. We’re looking forward to another
A former student shares the life-changing impact of CUSD’S Performing Arts program and
Unruh’s influence: “The dramatic art program meant everything to me in high school. As a shy
teenager lacking in self-esteem, I learned to sing and dance in front of a crowd. That training
has served me well as a professor of history where daily I stand in front of a classroom … [Ms.
Unruh] created a welcoming space where I could try new things and fail safely.”
Known for its community-wide and welcoming activities such as the Dine Out 4 Carp Kids
program, CEF is committed to filling the fiscal gap caused by more than $900,000 in recent
school budget cuts. Last year, the nonprofit launched a K-5 elementary arts program, the first
time since 2004. Every student participates in art, music, drama, or dance once a week for the
entire school year through the Santa Barbara County Education Office's Children's Creative
Project. “Without the support of CEF, CUSD elementary students would not have any access to
quality Visual and Performing Arts learning experiences. We are eternally grateful for CEF,"
noted Superintendent Rigby.
In that it-takes-a-village sense of camaraderie, Westerlay Orchids, 3504 Via Real, will hold a
fundraiser dress rehearsal of sorts from Aug. 30 through Sept. 6 by donating 100 percent of its
retail shop proceeds, further supporting CEF’s art, music, and other enrichment programs. Yes,
"CEF has been an amazing partner for decades by raising funds to support CUSD enrichment
programs that make a difference in the lives of our students,” summed up the superintendent.
Tickets for Carp-a-Cabana are $85 per person and may be purchased at carpedfoundation.org.
Carp-a-Cabana sponsors include Cresco Labs, Mac Brown Excavating, Grant Cox Enterprises,
Westerlay Orchids, Montecito Bank & Trust, Matson Industrial Finishing, BEGA North America,
Montecito Law Group, Michael & Marni Cooney and Alan & Carol Koch.
ABOUT THE CARPINTERIA EDUCATION FOUNDATION (CEF)
The Carpinteria Education Foundation, Inc. (CEF) is dedicated to the academic success of
students in the Carpinteria Unified School District (CUSD). Committed to building
dynamic community partnerships to support the public schools in Carpinteria and
Summerland, CEF provides essential resources and enrichment opportunities to all
district students. CEF is located at the CUSD office, 1400 Linden Ave., Carpinteria, CA
93013. The phone number is (805) 881-3498. For more information, visit