This year's Connestee Falls Student Scholarship Program "Celebration of Education Gala" on Friday night, Sept. 21, lived up to its theme, "A Night to Shine." The highlight of the evening came at the end of the program: the announcement of a major donation which will begin the funding of a Scholarship Program endowment.
Connestee resident Sue Green spoke on behalf of herself and her spouse, Robin Phillips, explaining that Phillips' father, Paul Phillips, who passed away recently, had left a trust from which Robin and Sue were to donate funds to support educational endeavors. The gift to the scholarship program totaled more than $72,000.
Prior to the announcement of the endowment gift, scholarship recipients, donors and school officials gathered in the newly renovated Connestee Falls clubhouse to celebrate another successful year of raising money to help Transylvania County students further their educations. The Cherokee Room of the clubhouse was decorated with glittering stars and lights, and each table in the dining room sported a star with a photo of and a quote from a scholarship recipient.
An enticing collection of items was assembled in the Cherokee Room for the annual silent auction, and a buffet of delectable food was available along with a cash bar. Entertainment was provided initially by pianist Mary Alice McBrayer and later by "Hurricane" Dave and the Brevard CollegeTwisters.
During the program, the speakers illustrated the truth of the program's 2018 motto, Ben Franklin's wise observation that "an investment in knowledge pays the best interest."
Starting off the program, Dr. Laura B. Leatherwood, president of Blue Ridge Community College, spoke about the relationship between the scholarship program and the college. Through this academic year the program has provided BRCC more than $250,000 in student scholarship assistance.
BRCC freshman and scholarship recipient Josie Galloway then gave a moving account of her lifeexperience and thanked those present for her scholarship.Dr. Scott Sheffield, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at Brevard College pointed out that Brevard College has also received more than $250,000 from the scholarship program. Hayleigh Mann, a senior at the college, explained that her receipt of a Connestee Falls scholarship when she entered her freshman year boosted her confidence and encouraged her to seek other assistance. According to Mann, she has received a Connestee scholarship each of her four years at Brevard College, which has made it possible for her to pursue both her academic and her personal goals.Dr. Jeremy Gibbs, chief academic officer of Transylvania County Schools, described how the scholarship funds help Transylvania public schools assist students from all walks of life in a wide variety of ways. His remarks were followed by a video of 2018 Rosman High graduates Emma Henderson and Kaylin Lewandowski, who discussed their plans for college and beyond.The evening's keynote speaker, Aleece Fosnight, inspired those present with her personal story of setbacks and achievements, which has led her to a place of personal fulfillment in her position as a physician assistant at Pisgah Urology and Transylvania Women's Care in Brevard. She encouraged current students to be persistent in pursuing their goals.Connestee residents Jody and Jack Grant with a silent auction win.
The scholarship program has not yet completed its fundraising for the year, as the pickleball tournament and casino night are still to come. So far, apart from the endowment donation, the Program has received more than $100,000 in donations from individuals and local businesses. The final net total will be split evenly among Blue Ridge Community College, Brevard Collegeand Transylvania County Schools. The distribution of those funds will take place in January. For more information, and to donate securely online, visit http://www.cfscholarships.org.