Fifth Annual Wine Dinner and Auction to Benefit Housatonic Valley Regional High School International Travel Club

By Published On: September 11th, 2023

The annual Wine Dinner and Auction at the White Hart Inn in Salisbury, CT will be held on Friday, September 22 at 6:30 p.m. The event is held by fundraising organization Northwest Corner: Students Without Borders in support of the Housatonic Valley Regional High School (HVRHS) International Travel Club.

HVRHS is a public high school located in Falls Village, CT and encompasses the towns of Cornwall, Falls Village, Kent, North Canaan, Salisbury, and Sharon.

The trips, which are slated to take place in 2024, will be to Spain/Portugal and to Iceland. Northwest Corner: Students Without Borders is a fundraising group that operates semi-independently from HVRHS and the travel club, and is dedicated to providing international travel opportunities to the school’s students. Northwest Corner: Students Without Borders is run by a board made up of various community members, including teachers, administrators, and parents. The HVRHS International Travel Club originally existed for decades, but it was disbanded due to families not being able to fund their children’s trips. Five years ago, the club was resurrected through the fundraising efforts of Northwest Corner: Students Without Borders.

John Lizzi, Social Studies Teacher at HVRHS and International Travel Club Advisor stresses the importance of the travel club for the students’ academic careers.

“It has never been more essential for students to learn about the world in which they inhabit, and in my opinion, this can only be done in a limited sense in the classroom. These travel opportunities enrich and expand upon the curriculum taught to students at HVRHS,” he says.

He cites previous trips as examples for the kinds of cultural and academic experiences students can have: “students can practice their Spanish-language skills in Barcelona, visit local, family-run farms in Ireland, and observe and document the wildlife of the Galapagos, as Charles Darwin famously did 200 years ago.”

John also notes that the trips are filled with opportunities for students to learn about history, culture, art, architecture, cuisine, language, and much more. “Students also learn cultural empathy by experiencing how other people around the world live. They learn to appreciate and understand how and why others might be different from them.”

Ellie Wolgemuth, a junior at HVRHS who recently went to Japan with the travel club, concurred with John and shared that the trip impacted her greatly.

The Peace Wall in Western Belfast, Ireland. Taken during the Ireland/Scotland trip, which was from July 16 to July 28. The club sent 21 students and four teachers on this trip.

“Traveling to Japan made me realize how small we are in comparison to the world,” she says. “Flying fourteen hours over the Great Lakes, the snowy mountains of Canada, and the Pacific Ocean was a brand new experience.”

Ellie also shares that she wants to study art in college, and that Japan provided her with a variety of fresh ideas and “landscapes to paint.”

“While traveling around Japan, it was so easy to get lost in all of the fascinating sites that Connecticut doesn’t share,” she says. “Although many aspects of the cities seemed like they could exist in Los Angeles or New York City, we couldn’t go too far before we encountered something that no one in our group had encountered before.”

Ellie also shares that she believes it’s important to have an international travel club at HVRHS because, “it allows students to explore other parts of the world when they may not otherwise receive that opportunity. Because Housatonic is a small public school nestled in the forests of Connecticut, it’s natural for students like me to feel isolated and removed from the rest of the world.”

The Wine Dinner and Auction at the White Hart Inn consists of a cocktail hour, a four-course dinner with three wines, and both live and silent auctions. Students make up the staff at the event and fill various roles including waitstaff, greeters, decorators, and many more.

John says that they don’t have the details regarding the menu and wines just yet, but that “Dan Winkley (the manager of the White Hart) and Doug Cohn (our local wine expert) always do a fantastic job putting this together.”

Additionally, over 70 items have been donated by local businesses for the auction. John says more are still coming in, with an anticipated goal of around 100 items.

“To name just a handful, we have a private theater rental at the Millerton Moviehouse, race tickets from Lime Rock Park, a medley of books and bookmarks from House of Books, and gift cards from numerous restaurants – too many to name!”

He also says that for the live auction, which is intended for the items of the highest value, they have a couple of paintings from local artists as well as a one-week timeshare in Myrtle Beach, SC.

The travel club also accepts donations and sponsors. Donations help fund cultural experiences, airfare, hotel accommodations, and opportunities for high school and college credit. Sponsorships include a sponsor’s name and logo appearing on all marketing materials including tickets, posters, the website, etc. Certain sponsorship levels include tickets in the donation price.

John also adds that “The HVRHS International Travel Club and Northwest Corner: Students Without Borders are forever grateful for all of the support we receive from the Region One community. Our continued success each year is sustained by help we receive from so many people – local business owners, teachers, administrators, parents, and of course, students themselves. The travel opportunities we offer each year would not be possible without the tremendous team effort that takes place in advance of this fundraiser.”Tickets to the Wine Dinner and Auction are $100 each and can be purchased online at If you have any questions or want to buy tickets via a check, call Lia at (860) 248-0269.

Wine and Dinner Auction
Friday, September 22 at 6:30 p.m.
The White Hart Inn
15 Under Mountain Rd, Salisbury, CT
(860) 435-0030

HVRHS Galapagos Trip, which was from June 25 to July 3. Eight students, two teachers, and three parents went on the nine-day trip.