Ranger’s robotics team celebrates their coach Gabrielle Gagnon (holding plaque) who received the Coaches Award at the First Lego League State Championship over the weekend. Joining her are (back row from left) Nataly Tomzack, Cheyenne Albright, Emily Tomzack and Ryleigh Stewart; (front row) Ari Collier, Kara Penland, Adara Collier and coach Sherry Brookins. Photo by SAMANTHA SINCLAIR

SCOUTING AROUND: Vegas act comes to Murphy; Teacher wins Lego award

    Big Brother Big Sisters of Cherokee County is bringing Las Vegas to Murphy for another dinner and show fundraiser. This year’s featured performer is Morgane Latouche as Celine Dion, and the event will be held at McGuire’s Millrace Farm in Peachtree on Friday, May 12.
    Latouche is a French-born singer and dancer who regularly performs at the Venetian Hotel & Casino on the strip in Vegas.
    “We picked Morgane Latouche after looking at several Las Vegas-style acts,” said Tom Spencer, chairman of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Advisory Council. “Celine Dion is a singer that everyone knows and most people like her music. ...
    “Not only does she look like Celine, but her voice is so close that you can hardly tell the difference between her and Celine. Morgane also sings other music, such as jazz, blues and rock.”
    Last year’s event featuring Rob Satori and his Rat Pack & More show at the Historic Hackney Warehouse in Murphy was popular, as tickets sold out quickly. Tickets this year are $60 per person, and seating is limited to 200. The price includes hors d’oeurves, gourmet dinner and dessert – all prepared by McGuire’s executive chef and staff – along with the show.
    Cocktails and hors d’oeurves begin at 5:50 p.m., dinner is at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. There also will be a silent auction.
    Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel is once again sponsoring the event, funding about 80 percent of the costs of the event. Last year’s event raised more than $14,000 for the mentorship program.
    “The money we raise from these shows is critical to the continued growth of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Cherokee County,” Spencer said.
    He said most of the money the organization raises goes toward their only part-time employee who manages all the matches – about 50 – in Cherokee County. The organization just added Peachtree Elementary School to the program, and another program coordinator may be needed as it continues to grow.
    Another big expense is liability insurance, which Spencer said increases as the number of both children and mentors in the program rises.
    “There are approximately 300 children in our county who face a variety of adversities,” he said. “All of them could benefit from having a mentor. We have a long way to go to reach even half of them.”
    To reserve a table or seats, contact Spencer at 644-4111 or jtspencer1960@gmail.com.

Gagnon wins Lego award
    Robotics teams from Martins Creek Elementary/Middle School and Ranger Elementary/Middle School traveled to N.C. A&T University last weekend to compete in the First Lego League State Championship.
    While the Cherokee County teams didn’t do as well in the state competition as the regional one last month and finished in
the bottom half, Ranger coach Gabrielle Gagnon won the Coaches Award. The award goes to coaches and mentors who inspire their teams to do their best, according to First Lego League.
    “Our students did a great job, we just had some tough competition,” Gagnon said.
    There were 60 teams representing various regions throughout the state. Students valued the opportunity to represent the area in the competition, where teams build a Lego robot to perform tasks on a large tabletop game board, as well as make presentations on the themes of the new competitions.
    “I was excited about going,” said Cheyenne Albright, one of the students from Ranger’s team. “The experience was awesome.”

Library brings winter inside
    Children who missed going to story time at the Murphy Public Library for inclement weather last week and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday this week will have a special treat Friday.
    The library will host a “Snow Play” event at 10:30 a.m. Children ages 0-6 will get to listen to wintry stories told by youth services librarian Bridget Wilson. They also will get to play with snow dough and ice skate indoors.
    The Snow Play event will come to Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville at 10 a.m. Saturday as well as the Andrews Public Library at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 27.
    Older siblings are welcomed to attend. For details, call Wilson at 837-2025.
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message at 837-5122.