It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

On Friday, December 15, 2017, Innisfree Hotels hosted a Christmas luncheon at the Hilton on Pensacola Beach for Dixon School of the Arts scholars and staff. The event featured festive singing and dancing performances by the talented students.

As in years past, the luncheon was sponsored by Julian MacQueen, Founder and CEO of Innisfree Hotels, and his wife Kim. Innisfree’s longstanding involvement with Dixon School of the Arts inspired the establishment of company’s formal corporate social responsibility program, The Hive. You can read about our history with the school here.

Innisfree’s Director of Development Rich Chism, who also serves as chair of the Dixon Board, addressed the scholars during the event.

“We really appreciate all of the kids being here every year,” he said. “We see the joy of Christmas on your faces and your enthusiasm, love for learning and performing. It just keeps us all young to be around you.”

Rich also had kind words for all of those involved with Dixon and the event, thanking the teachers and volunteers, parents, family and friends for their hard work throughout the year.

Of course, he gave a special acknowledgement to the principal of Dixon School of the Arts, Dr. Donna Curry.

“This school simply doesn’t exist and doesn’t function every day without her,” Rich said.

Dr. Curry took the opportunity to recognize some of the scholars’ recent achievements. Four Dixon scholars attended an international science conference in New Orleans, where they presented research on the local fish population. The scholars shared their experience and displayed their posters for guests of the luncheon.

Dr. Curry spoke about Dixon’s impact at the conference.

“The people that saw these 6th and 7th-grade scientists were blown away,” she says. “They were handing them cards and wanting to watch these students grow and develop and talk about scholarships.”

Santa Claus made a surprise visit at the luncheon to pose for pictures with the scholars and check his list (twice). But the scholars didn’t have to wait long for their presents to arrive.

In partnership with onbikes Pensacola, Innisfree Hotels donated more than 100 bicycles and helmets to Dixon, an unexpected gift to the children who have come to mean so much to our company. (Last year, Innisfree hosted a coat drive to provide warm winter coats to Dixon students and staff.)

Special thanks to the Operations team and staff of the Hilton Pensacola Beach for making this event an enormous success.

Because of the support of this community, Dixon School of the Arts is poised to continue changing the lives of its scholars in 2018.