Guests enjoy food prepared by students of the Saddleback College culinary arts department. (Dylan Lujano)
Casino tables, beautiful dining tables, a dance floor, and even an ice sculpture of gigantic dice welcomed guests to the 2011 Saddleback College Foundation Gala last Saturday.
This year’s gala theme was “Bet on Education,” a play on the concept of betting during any of the available casino games. The focus of the gala was the students of Saddleback, and the theme, entertainment, and presentation were all on topic.
Ultimately the night was about the students, with all proceeds going to benefit the students of Saddleback. A silent auction was held at the beginning of the evening, with items ranging from potted plants to expensive professional family portraits.
With the gym disguised as a casino and dining hall, guests were given casino money to try their hands at blackjack, roulette, and craps. Winnings would go towards a prize raffle with a grand prize getaway to any of a long list of Nevada hotels.
The money generated by the casino night went towards the Foundation’s scholarships and other programs.
The Foundation is Saddleback’s primary external fundraiser and support for everything that goes on with the college. The gala is the Foundation’s primary fundraiser for its events during the year, for scholarships, and for other projects on campus.
President Tod Burnett has expressed in his top 10 goals that he would like to see the Foundation become more attached with its alumni. Through the use of social media and modern technology, hopefully more Alumni events and participation will come forth.
The dinner was prepared by the Saddleback Culinary department, with every dish cooked by Saddleback students. The students described and served their own dishes to eager guests.
A large assortment of food was available, ranging from regional American cuisine to Asian cuisine to delicious desserts. The wide array of edibles appealed to everyone in the dining room, as no one was without plenty to eat. The students were constantly rushing to refill the serving platters and dessert table, as guests came back for seconds and thirds.
The centerpieces on the dining tables and other decorations for the event were conceived and assembled by Saddleback’s Interior Design Club. The gym had been decorated by students and volunteers, and the tables were bussed by students from Capistrano Valley High School’s Cougars of Character, and the Aliso Viejo Singles.
Entertainment during the cocktail reception and silent auction was provided by Saddleback College jazz students.
The dining room entertainment was provided by former Saddleback student and scholarship recipient Adriane Jenster-Callas, along with her husband Roland Jenster, and featured Ray Weston. The art department displayed a number of masterpieces for the event as well.
Donna Varner, president of the Saddleback Foundation, was very pleased with the event.
“Everything has turned out well. More people showed up than we had planned,” Varner said, “We have received lots of support from the school and the students.”
The 2010 Alumni of the Year, Frances Dilorinzo, gave the crowd plenty of laughs as she performed stand-up comedy to showcase who she was. Burnett introduced her as a student who once sat quietly in class at Saddleback College.
He shared an anecdotal tale of how her speech instructor encouraged the students to include humor in their speeches. Frances took the risk and had her whole class laughing as she gave her speech.
She went in to win California’s Gold Medal in the Speech to Entertain category two years in a row, and soon thereafter hit the real world of comedy. Now a renowned comedienne, Frances has been around the world on USO tours, and around the nation performing for Comedy Central, Lifetime, BET, Comics Unleashed, and Last Comic Standing.