Pulling a block out of a Jenga tower takes patience and skill.

It’s even harder when the breeze tries to lend a hand, but Oak Ridge resident Craig Rigell and his grandson, 13-year-old James Bowles, held out until their tower reached eye level before it crashed.

Family fun was the name of the game Saturday during Maryville College’s College & Community Day, when students, staff and the community shared lunch and had a good time.

For some, like Rigell, a 1969 graduate, the school is a family tradition.

He earned degrees in biology and history, assets he used later as a teacher and principal before becoming a school superintendent.

“Ten members of my family studied here,” Rigell said. “I’m from a family of six boys, and five of us went here. My daughter, Ginny Bowles, also went here.”

Rigell, who qualified to participate in NASA’s Teacher in Space Program, credits the college with teaching him the communication skills that came in handy in his career.

Valuing diversity was another lesson, he said. Rigell proudly pointed out that 30 states and 25 countries are represented in the student body.

“We had great professors,” Rigell said. “It’s a wonderful place and it keeps improving.”

A steady stream of children waited patiently in the heat to get their faces painted before hitting the inflatable slide and bounce house.

Adults enjoyed campus tours before watching the premiere of a special bicentennial video that debuted archival footage that hasn’t been previously shown.

The Blount County Fire Department and AMR ambulance service dropped by to let the public check out their trucks.

BCFD Lt. Tim Ogle gave tours of the department’s educational smokehouse, which simulates a burning structure, and a collection of fire detectors that included vintage fire detectors that were triggered by heat.

Evetty Satterfield and a crew of volunteers kept busy handing out enrollment and program literature at the school’s informational booth.

“It’s been really good, we’ve had a great turnout,” Satterfield said. “We’ve had a lot of alumni and people in the community come out today.”

The day also was a time for current and former employees to catch up with each other.

Laura Case, who retired in 2018 after 32 years of service as an assistant to the college’s president, said she enjoyed the friendships of her old coworkers.

She and her husband, Noel, kept busy handing out a popular item, commemorative orange Frisbees.

“We’re very happy with the turnout,” Case said. “We had no idea what to expect, honestly, but they are having a good time.”

Jan Taylor, assistant dean for academic success, enjoyed a quick game of cornhole with her grandson, 7-year-old Charlie Taylor.

“It think it’s nice,” Jan Taylor said. “It’s a comfortable crowd.”

Court Reporter

Victoria joined The Daily Times in 2019 as covers the courts and cops beat.

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