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Photos: Coquitlam high school goes back to the '80s for parent dinner, dance

The annual event at Dr. Charles Best Secondary typically sells out, organizers say.

As lead vocalist for Cakewalk, Sheila Sharma belts out hits from the 1960s and beyond.

But for next month's Parent Dinner and Dance at Coquitlam's Dr. Charles Best Secondary, her band will stick mostly to the '80s when Whitney Houston, Guns 'n Roses and Journey ruled the charts.

"And we'll do the Dirty Dancing theme song," Sharma said with a laugh. "People just go nuts when they hear that. Everyone has a ball on the dance floor."

On March 4, Cakewalk will play its first concert at a Tri-Cities high school — a fundraiser put on by parents of Grade 11 students for Grad 2024.

Proceeds of the event will help to reduce the cost of the graduating students' tickets to attend their dinner and dance celebrations next year.

Co-organizers Heather Darts, whose daughter Rachel is in Grade 11, and Jane Straker Gray, parent to Grade 11 student Davis, said the Parent Dinner and Dance hasn't been held for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

"It's emotional to think about all the events everyone has missed," Darts said, "so now we want to make up for lost time. For the kids, it's exciting to see them launch into their futures and we want to make it extra special for them."

Darts and Straker Gray, who also organized their kids' dances and leaving ceremonies at elementary and middle schools, hope to collect about $10,000 through 250 ticket sales, a cash bar and a silent auction; the dinner will be catered by Austin Gourmet.

The pair is also asking that guests sport their acid wash jeans, leg warmers and shoulder pads to get into the '80s spirit for the throw-back party.

As in past years, they expect the 19+ event to sell out quickly.

Evans Chan, Cakewalk’s bass guitarist, had two daughters recently graduate from Best.

"To play at a high school is a bucket list gig for us," he said, "especially when your kids have gone there….We're going to be playing songs that trigger memories for the parents.

"It’s going to be the soundtrack to the ‘80s."

Added guitarist Kirk Benedict, "We want to give back to the community and see that these students have a great send-off next year."

Tickets for "A Night in the ‘80s Dinner and Dance" on March 4 are $55 via

It takes place in the gym at Dr. Charles Best Secondary (2525 Como Lake Ave.) from 6 to 11:30 p.m.

Businesses can donate silent auction prizes by emailing Heather Darts at

Volunteers are also needed for set up, take down and tending bar (with a Serving It Right certificate).