With the hashtag #MarianInspires as a theme, perhaps it's no surprise that MarianFEST (Funding Education in the Servite Tradition) involved substantial use of social media.

The benefit for Marian High School was Feb. 5 at Baxter Arena.

Gala attendees who posted to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag were able to see their posts on a social media feed that appeared on the arena scoreboard and concourse TVs. The ribbon board that rings the arena displayed hashtags related to Marian accomplishments and core values, including #StateSoftballChamps and #Empowerment.

The social media theme continued as Sister Mary Gehringer, provincial of the Servants of Mary, welcomed the nearly 650 attendees to dinner, then used a selfie stick to take a portrait of herself with everyone in the arena.

"I think we just broke the Internet," she said.

Short videos also furthered the theme, including a takeoff on TV host Jimmy Fallon's "#Hashtags" segment. In the Marian version, teachers and administrators stood in front of a camera and read nonsensical tweets about themselves.

The evening took a turn toward serious as Marian senior Tehillah Alphonso told her personal story in a video.

She said that before attending Marian, she had little confidence in herself as a vocalist. With support from teachers and friends, her confidence improved.

An honors student, Alphonso has since performed at Carnegie Hall, and will attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston in the fall. Following the video, Alphonso gave a live performance of the tune "City Dove," made popular by singer-songwriter Tori Kelly.

In the event program, Marian President Mary Higgins reflected on sacrifices of the Servite nuns who founded Marian in the 1950s.

"They had a vision beyond what any of us could imagine: a school open to every girl who wanted to attend, regardless of her financial means. It was a remarkable achievement, but their journey was not easy. The sisters poured everything they had into Marian's foundation.

"They designed, planned, administered, taught, waxed the floors and cared for the grounds. Their dedication to empowering girls to succeed as confident, independent, thinking leaders with such limited resources was, to say the least, inspiring. Sixty years later, Marian remains dedicated to providing the finest education to young women."

The evening also included silent and live auctions and a raffle.

MarianFEST raised nearly $450,000, with proceeds going toward tuition assistance, scholarships and the school's operating budget.

Executive chairmen were Jim and Molly Carpenter Garriott, Gary and Shelly Grote, Rob and Lisa Johnson, Chris and Jillyn Kratochvil, Dan and Mary Johnson Rommelfanger and Chris and Karen Tatten.


Conge capped a year of fundraising for Omaha Duchesne.

Contributions from pre-event patron parties, student raffles, online/print advertising, general underwriting and other activities supplemented the silent and live auctions at the event, held Jan. 30 at Embassy Suites La Vista.

The work paid off, with the efforts resulting in more than $500,000 in gross proceeds. The school's operating budget and tuition assistance program will benefit.

Duchesne's Sacre Choir provided entertainment for the evening, singing the school song, "Coeur de Jesus (Heart of Jesus)," and a medley of tunes from the TV show "Glee."

Along the way, 1983 alumna Meg Huerter Brudney was recognized for becoming Duchesne's new head of school.

The theme, "I Love Conge," had an urban, industrial feel that extended to the cityscape streetart stage backdrop produced by decorations chairmen Wes and Jeanette Nelson, Kathy Neary and Julie Kenney. Duchesne students and the Creighton Prep Art Club painted graffiti on the set.

Food at the event was reflective of the urban theme. Meal elements — including salad, pretzel rolls, kabobs, couscous and fresh vegetables — were served in disposable containers similar to those from a street vendor. Miniature bundt cakes in lemon and red velvet flavors provided a sweet finish to the meal.

Event co-chairmen were Scott and Kelli Draper, Craig and Kerry Kelley, Terry and Jill Petersen, and Rob and Stacie Reed.



Cocktails With the Kennedys,Durham Museum On-Track Guild, held at the museum, $75, 402444-5071.


Cruise Away to Mardi Gras,Stephen Center, Champions Run, $125, Rosie Matz, 402-616-1878.

Fiesta 2016 "A League of Their Own,"Mercy High School, Embassy Suites La Vista, $125, mercyhigh.org.

Rockin' Rosie 2016,Rose Theater Guild, Hilton Omaha, $125, 402345-4849.


Art & Soup,Visiting Nurse Association, Embassy Suites La Vista, $50, www.theVNAcares.org.

FEB. 25, 26, 27

Murder Mystery at the Castle: "Time to Kill,"Joslyn Castle Trust, held at the castle, 39th and Davenport Streets, $85, joslyncastle.com.

FEB. 27

JDRF Promise Gala: "Going Platinum for a Cure,"JDRF, CenturyLink Center Omaha, $225; Laci Naber, lnaber@jdrf.org.


Completely Kids Author Luncheon,Completely Kids, Hilton Omaha, $75, completelykids.org.


Celebrity Chef featuring Anne Burrell,Food Bank for the Heartland, Embassy Suites La Vista, $150, 402-331-1213.


Columb's Ceili,St. Columbkille Parish, Embassy Suites La Vista, $85, columbsceili.org.


Semele Gala,Opera Omaha, Paxton & Vierling Steel Co., 501 Ave. H in Carter Lake; $300, 402346-4398.


Irish Fest,Catholic Charities, Embassy Suites La Vista, $150, www.ccomaha.org.


Circle of Dreams,St. Augustine Indian Mission School, Hilton Omaha, $125, 402-878-2402.

Omaha Press Club Show,Omaha Press Club Foundation, Holland Performing Arts Center, $150 ($125 for ages 35 and younger), opcshow@gmail.com or 402-5518526.


Cathedral Comedy and Cuisine,St. Cecilia Grade School, held at the school gym, $125, 402-551-2313.


Tribute Luncheon honoring Jim and Diny Landen,Nebraska Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, Happy Hollow Club, $50, nebraskacures.com or 402-390-2461.

MAY 23

Liberty Mutual Invitational,Nebraska Kidney Association, Oak Hills Country Club, $1,200/ foursome, kidneyne.org.

SEPT. 15

Imagine Our Youth,Omaha Home for Boys, Embassy Suites La Vista, $125, 402-457-7165.

If you have news for Around and About, send it to Howard K. Marcus, aroundandabout@owh.com. Follow him on Twitter @OWHhoward.

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