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Renaissance-themed feast fuels local scholarship drive

September 16, 2007|by MARIE GILBERT

What you imagined is almost exactly what you got with the Elizabethtowne Feaste & Frolic.

There was period music, a menu of medieval fare and a performance of a Shakespeare comedy.

But what the evening really was about was making education more accessible to local students.

About 145 people attended a Renaissance-themed event Saturday at Duffy's on Potomac to raise scholarship funds for students enrolled in programs at the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown.

All money raised from the event will be managed by the Community Foundation of Washington County and placed in the Waltersdorf/Henson Endowment Challenge.

According to Gaye McGovern, chairperson for the fundraiser, organizers were expecting to raise about $27,000 from the Feaste & Frolic.

"We've had wonderful community support - from individuals and businesses alike," McGovern said. "There has been a lot of excitement leading up to tonight."

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McGovern said the planning committee decided on a Renaissance theme "because the University System has become the crown jewel of downtown Hagerstown."

"What was once a vacant building is now a vibrant educational center," she said. "And the opening of the center has had a ripple effect, with so much now happening all around it."

While there is a great deal of pride in having the University System in downtown Hagerstown, McGovern said it also has brought about educational opportunities for thousands of area residents.

Since it opened its doors in 2005, McGovern estimated that more than 2,000 students have enrolled in classes at the center.

"People now have an opportunity to get a first-class education, which leads to better jobs, and also attracts a better level of employer," she said. "It's a very dynamic economic engine."

Brit Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, said he was impressed at how the community has come together to support the downtown education center.

"I'm so proud of the university center in Hagerstown," he said. "I'm also proud that it has reached its highest level of enrollment ever."

According to McGovern, a scholarship fundraising goal of $212,500 recently was met and will be matched by the Waltersdorf/Henson Endowment Challenge for a total scholarship endowment of $425,000. The interest from the endowment will provide scholarship assistance to area students enrolled in programs at the center.

Saturday's Feaste & Frolic began with a reception, which featured the North Hagerstown High School string quartet performing period music.

The night also included a meal featuring Renaissance fare, followed by a performance of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" by Hagerstown Community College's Robinwood Players.

Members of The Potomac Playmakers, a community theater group, circulated among the crowd throughout the night, dressed in Renaissance period attire.

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