The Maryville City Schools Foundation set a new record Saturday night during the annual Starlight Gala at the Airport Hilton, raising $108,800.

Maryville students provided entertainment throughout the evening with string ensembles and a ukulele performance, and attendees bid in a silent auction as well as making separate donations.

The evening’s honorees expressed their appreciation for the schools and community, as well as some good-natured humor.

The Hodge family accepted the Foundation Partnership Award for both their individual contributions and support through their family business, Twin City Dealership.

Frances Mull Hodge is a 1959 graduate of Maryville High School, and Jerry Hodge a 1960 graduate. Their two children and four grandchildren also are MHS alumni, the most recent one graduating in 2015.

Referring to the envelope mix-up at the Academy Awards last week, Jerry Hodge said if a similar mistake occurred that evening with himself and award recipient Bill Beaty, “I would be a hero Navy pilot, and he would have been the local used car salesman.”

Referring to when he graduated from high school, Jerry Hodge said, “I was in the half that made the upper half possible.” Looking back on the teachers he thought were tough at the time, he said he now appreciates the education he received at MHS. “Boy am I glad I had Miss Beach for history, because I love history today,” he said.

“We’re proud to continue to support one of the top-rated school districts in the state and our nation,” Hodge said on behalf of his family.

Doug Jenkins, who received the Distinguished Service Award, joked that his wife, Joan, kept him humble. “She’s on her phone watching some giraffe about to give birth,” he said. “That’s where I rate in my family.”

Jenkins served on the MCS Board of Education from 2001 to 2016, as well as numerous volunteer positions in the community, including with Habitat for the Humanity.

Jenkins said he is no more worthy of the award than others in the community who have inspired him. “It makes me a better person to watch you folks,” he said.

“I thank you for Maryville being a great community for us to live in,” Jenkins said.

Brooke Jarvis, recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, also expressed her appreciation to the community and her teachers in Maryville City Schools. Once the co-editor of the MHS student newspaper, today the 2003 graduate is a contributing editor to The New York Times Magazine.

Jarvis said she often tells people that her job as a writer is a lot like going to school, receiving an assignment, conducting research and writing a paper. “Instead of a grade, I get a paycheck,” she said. Her writing also has earned several awards.

Her career allows her to travel and meet people from very different backgrounds, Jarvis told the audience. For example, she wrote a book about her time with the last leprosy colony in the United States. “Every one of us lives in a bubble,” she said. “It is a gift when we are given the chance to see beyond ourselves.”

“We have a responsibility to listen to and care about people outside our bubbles,” she said.

Two MHS Class of 1963 graduates shared the Distinguished Alumni Award, William Everett Beaty III and Oliver Kelly Spears III. Both men had distinguished Navy careers and have served numerous community organizations.

Spears is executive director and Beaty director of operations for Foothills Community Development Corp., a nonprofit that helps provide affordable housing in Blount and surrounding counties.

“One of the things we can agree on, there are a shipload of people who deserve this more than we do,” Spears said.

The two men first met when Beaty moved to Maryville in 1959 and went through high school together. “I carried him some of the way,” Beaty joked. Both men are married to their high school sweethearts.

Beaty recalled when he and his wife had lunch with Spears’ mother after they returned to town. Afterward he received a note that said, “I’m so glad you and Fran are back in town, where we all belong.”

The total raised Saturday does not include donations to the Children’s Fund collected at the end of the evening. The fund supports the Family Resource Center, which provides more than 360 families with students in Maryville City Schools each year with assistance including food, clothing and medical care.

Amy Beth earned her degree from West Virginia. She joined The Daily Times in 2016 on the education beat covering Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County school systems.

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