FHS Tech Gala focus: winning

While the school’s football state championship has gotten the most publicity, Farragut High School’s academic champions were center-stage during Second Annual FHS Technology Gala.

“I can tell you, I’ve been in a lot of schools but I’ve never been in a school, for instance, where we had six kids that scored 36 on the ACT,” Ryan Siebe, FHS principal, announ-ced during the Gala about one of several school academic accomplishments unparalleled among other Knox County public high schools in 2016-17.

“We have incredible kids that just won the Code TN contest, which Ms. [Mary] Lin sponsors, we have kids that win Scholar’s Bowl,” Siebe added.

However, “It’s one thing to have high-caliber students … we do have limited resources,” Siebe said about the purpose of FHS Tech Gala.

The Gala, held in Rothchild Catering & Conference Center Saturday night, Jan. 28, with hundreds attending, also featured a live and silent auction plus recognition of specific technology financial donations. If the goal of $75,000 is reached, that money would purchase up to 20 library computers and three smartboards.

“We have 362 machines for 1,800 students that are available on a daily basis,” Lin, FHS technology coordinator, said to the gathering. “That is not much. … That’s a shame.”

However, “The good news is that you guys are fortunate enough to have the cheapest ‘private’ school in the county,” Lin said.

As for specific contributions, Lin said, “I want to recognize the support that we have received from the town of Farragut in this event. They have been very helpful in helping us get the word out to local businesses about the shortage that we have.”

Looking to define exactly what’s needed technology wise at FHS, Siebe said, “We’re making big efforts to make sure that we have an organized plan about what we’re trying to accomplish with resources.”

Attempting to purchase the most up-to-date technology, “That target is always moving,” Siebe said. “So with our kids right now we’re trying to prepare them for jobs that don’t [yet] exist and with technology that does not yet exist.”

Help for Siebe and Lin has come from FHS Teacher Technology Committee and a community-and-school-based Gala Committee.

Mark Packer, WVLT-TV Channel 8 sports anchor, and Sara Mitchell, a freelance broadcast reporter, were co-emcees.

While the pair provided bits of humor to go with attendees’ consumption of food and wine, Packer pointed out a funding gap among Knox County Schools.

“I began to understand that the Title I money was going to Fulton and Austin-East but was not going to the ‘Farraguts’ of Knox County,” he told the gathering.

“Fulton or Austin-East would receive about $2 million a year, Farragut would get about $300,000,” Packer added.

Referring to what FHS officials and parents say they often hear, “’Oh you’re Farragut, you have the most money,’” Packer said. “That may be the case in the community. … But it is not the case inside the walls of Farragut High School.”