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Annual black-tie dinner raises money for student scholarships

Workers put on the finishing touches in the ballroom before the beginning of Palomar College President’s Associates 24th Annual Gala at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa on Saturday, Sept 12, 2015. (Justin Gray/The Telescope)

A night of food and festivities to raise money for education was held on Nov. 22 at the Rancho Bernardo Inn.

The Palomar College President’s Associates 23rd Annual Gala raises funds that benefit the college’s students and programs. The theme of this year’s event was Discovering the Magic of Education. Tickets cost $300 and over 350 people attended.

“We have been told that it was the most exciting, well-paced and entertaining one in (Palomar) gala history,” Richard Talmo, executive director of the Foundation, said.

The Foundation raised around $150,000 this year, according to Talmo. The money raised goes toward scholarships, equipment, learning services and educational programs, according to the Foundation’s website.

“The Foundation does amazing work for Palomar students,” Associated Student Government president Jason Hosfield said. “If this is how the Foundation gets their money, then I’m all for it.”

The evening started out with guests arriving for cocktails and a silent auction. After a welcome, acknowledgement speech and dinner service, student entertainers from Palomar’s performing arts department performed as a group called Encore.

Other events for the evening included a contest in which one person from each table tried to sell a bottle of wine to their tablemates, with an award going to the highest price sold. Table 12 won this contest with a final bid of $1,001, outbidding another table by $1.

There was also a live auction which included various trips such as Puerto Vallarta and a week in Hawaii. The trips were valued anywhere between $1,000 and $9,500.

Each year, the Foundation gives the Comet Award to individuals who make noteworthy contributions to the local community.

This year’s award recipients were Major General Anthony Jackson, U.S. Marine Corps, and World War II Veteran Jack Port, who landed at Normandy on D-Day.

“It’s an honor,” Jackson said. “If you commit yourself to a life of service, you really don’t expect a physical award.”

“It’s very nice when people recognize (you), but it’s not something you expect,” he added.

One of the live auction items was a 7-day trip to Normandy, France with Jack Port on the anniversary of D-Day. Called a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” by the Foundation, two of the trips were auctioned off at $4,000 and $3,600.

Port is known locally for his contributions to the community and for serving 28 years on the San Diego Board of Education. In 1974, he was awarded an honorary degree in humane arts from Palomar.

“I am a product of public education,” Port said.

Former students that have received scholarships from the Foundation also spoke at the podium during the Gala.

Jonathan Farmer, former ASG president and currently a USD student, said “For a moment I thought I would have to choose between text books and groceries.”

He said he didn’t have to choose thanks to the help from Palomar. He ended with “I am still a Comet.”

The night concluded with dancing and music performed by The Xceptional Tribute to Abba.

Sponsors of the event included Balfour Beatty Construction, Tri-City Medical Center and the Stone Brewing Company.

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Annual black-tie dinner raises money for student scholarships