Gahanna students hit the jackpot March 11, thanks to the success of the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation's annual fundraiser.

Sharon Tomko, foundation president, said the event raised more than $100,000 to continue its mission of promoting excellence in the school district. More than 380 people attended.

The 13th annual Gahanna Gala, with the theme "A Night in Las Vegas," had guests playing various games of chance such as roulette, blackjack and craps to win tickets for raffle prizes.

Tom Falzone and Tim Nuss tested their luck at the roulette table. They both support the event because they each have children who attend Jefferson Elementary School and Middle School East. Nuss also is a 1985 Gahanna Lincoln alumnus.

Patron Josh Bailey said he and his wife have both volunteered to help the foundation for five or six years.

They have an eighth-grader at Middle School East and a fifth-grader at Jefferson Elementary.

Todd Richardson of Blacklick said his children have all graduated from the Gahanna school system, but he still supports the foundation's mission to support innovative programs that impact the learning experience for all G-J students.

Richardson's sister, Kim Frasher, teaches accelerated math at the district's three middle schools.

Cris Ferrante supported the foundation by performing as Elvis.

"My daughter, Bella, is at Middle School East and my son, Sal, is at the high school," he said. "I sing at nursing homes. I do all oldies music. Elvis isn't my best for singing. My son and I do a duet. He does young Elvis and I do old Elvis."

Gahanna Lincoln High School Principal Bobby Dodd helped to entertain by singing the Elvis hit, "You Ain't Nothing But A Hound Dog" on equipment to be purchased through the gala's Fund-A-Need program.

Tomko said the goal was raising $20,000 to purchase 12 music technology work stations for Gahanna Lincoln High School.

"Students can work on production of digitally produced music," she said. "It's for the students who aren't in band or choir but are interested in music. They can learn about production."

Senior Jonathan Mayes shot video for the foundation as an assignment for his television class, which previously benefitted from the gala.

"We've purchased Macs we've used for editing," he said. "It's amazing how much respect and appreciation the community has to come out and support this event.

"It's comforting to know the community supports the school district," Mayes said.

In 2016, the foundation awarded 50 grants valued at $75,511. The gala's Fund-A-Need also raised $40,000 for 3-D printers at the middle schools and high school, according to Tomko.

Also last year, there were $13,466 in mini-grants awarded to promote wellness and support students at-risk and enrichment. The foundation also awarded $26,600 in scholarships for 15 students.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla