What a ride!

Students get Aubrey's limo lunch as reward for fundraising

Photo with no caption
By Tony Karnowski
For Blount Today

Twelve Maryville Intermediate School students ditched the cafeteria on Wednesday, Oct. 25, and teachers approved of their "skips."

The students spent their lunch time off campus, riding in a limo and lunching at Aubrey’s restaurant. They were winners in a school fundraiser that topped the $26,000 mark, so they rode to lunch in style a limo bus and then ate whatever they wanted from the menu at Aubrey’s Restaurant.

The trip was a reward for the students’ efforts about a month earlier during the school’s second annual Eagle X Games on Sept. 28. Modeled after the traditional fundraising technique of the walk-a-thon, the games raised more than $26,000 for the school in a single fun-filled day. Last year the games raised roughly $18,000 that went toward audio and video teaching aids, as well as books and playground equipment. Jane Click, Principal of MIS, said they hope to continue that trend.

While helping to make their school a better learning environment may have caused the students involved to feel good emotionally, this year there was more than just the promise of a warm-fuzzy feeling for motivation. Julie Foncea and Mary Proffitt, representatives of the Parent Teacher Coop (PTC) and the coordinators for this year’s fundraiser, thought it might be a good idea to give the kids some extra rewards for helping them reach their fund raising goal. It seems they were right.

Among the prizes offered were 12 iPod MP3 players, six Vera Bradley handbags, gift certificates to Marble Slab and Target.
The top three earners were offered their choice of three grand prizes. They all picked the same grand prize - a free limo ride and lunch at Aubrey’s in Maryville for themselves and a friend.

A drawing was held to choose another six students from the students who brought in between $50 to $99. Aubrey’s picked up the tab for the food and limo and Blount Today paid for any incidentals, including tipping the hard-working servers.

Proffitt and Foncea worked with Aubrey’s and Blount Today to organize the outing, and the kids were obviously appreciative of everyone’s hard work. As they climbed aboard the limo bus, which featured a big screen television playing Disney’s "The Little Mermaid" and some amazingly comfortable seats, their faces lit up with excitement.

Bailey Thompson, a fifth grader exclaimed: "I could live in this car!"

Lunch caused quite a bit of excitement, too.

"When I come here with my parents, I always have to order off the kids menu," Caitlyn Carpenter said. "Today I can get whatever I want!"

A quick look at the ticket showed at least six orders of chicken fingers and 12 desserts.

In addition to great food, the kids were all thankful to spend their lunch outside of the cafeteria. "It’s great here," Bailey Whitteaker said. "We don’t have to shout to talk to each other."

The students were accompanied by Foncea, Proffitt, Vice Principal Larry Headrick and teacher Scottie Collins. Collins not only participated as a chaperone, but he offered his own form of motivation for the fundraiser as well.

Collins had promised the students that if they raised $20,000, he would shave his head. In case that wasn’t enough, he also agreed that if they reached their goal of $25,000, he would come to school in a pink dress.

The day before the trip to Aubrey’s, Collins made good on his word. After shaving his head in front of the whole school, Collins changed into a pink dress that was donated by the Waste Not Want Not Thrift Store.

"Even with it being cold," Collins said, "shaving my head was nothing. Wearing that dress, though? I had a hard time with that." Collins said he hopes someone else will step up with another idea next year. If not, the students are already murmuring that they want him to shave his legs. "If I have to I will," he said. "But I hope someone like Larry (Headrick) will take a turn."

As the kids rode back to school after stuffing themselves, they took advantage of the limo’s sound system and listened to The Cheetah Girls. While some of the kids didn’t seem to enjoy the choice of music, everyone took the opportunity to shout out ideas for next year’s prizes to Foncea and Proffitt. Everyone agreed that another trip to Aubrey’s should be among those offered.

As the limo from Twin Lakes Limo pulled into the parking lot of MIS, the kids all groaned and called out for the driver to keep going. It wasn’t until the limo was parked that their pleas ended. They filed out of the limo with full bellies, ready to tackle the remainder of the day.

"This has been great," Foncea said. "We’re very thankful for everyone who helped make it happen."

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