Thursday, January 11, 2007

Addison Independent Article About Ray Pellegrini (thanks Pete!)

Big Ray: An Admirer Remembers

During the summer before my senior year at CSC, I Produced two plays for the town of Bristol; as part of my senior project. To me, theater was a daily part of my life and had been for years (thanks in no small part to "the committee," the local troupe fostered by the great Anne Gleason and "Marty" Chesley) and because of my college support I knew it would be more fun than "project."

It ended up being both, and despite some long days of set building and longer evenings of rehearsal, the shows ended up being a highlight of my Academic journey.

After the dust of that summer settled, and I was back at school, I received a letter on Mt. Abe letter-head from Ray Pellegrini. I had the pleasure of knowing Mr. P as the father of my good friend Christopher. He was always there to roll his eyes at our antics, laugh at our plays, and make us get out of "his chair" in the TV room.

I opened the note not sure if it was some sort of belated report card, "Dear Director Buonincontro..." it began. It was a Thank You letter. Thanking me for the hard work I put in to the productions both past and present, but more importantly thanking me for helping to influence a culture of the performing arts into the younger generations of the schools.

The importance of this did not hit home till after I left the rolling green hills of Vermont for the snow capped mountains of Oregon. I entered into work at a non-profit children's theater company as a teacher and performer. I went to school after school doing classes and plays, and teaching teachers how to play simple theater games that help students to communicate, work as a team, create discussion.

You see, Oregon has one of the worst budget crisis in the nation. Rather than programs on the block, entire schools close year after year. The school year gets shorter and shorter.

Then I got it.
Big Ray saw it.

The role of extra curricular activities is paramount in a community, cash strapped or not. It provides community identity, culture, something to root for. It is a vital and necessary outlet for countless numbers of kids.

Because of the support of Ray, both as an educator and as a parent, Vermont was a better place, and his influence and the influence of those like him have spread from the far corners of the world quite literally.

I believe that the most fitting tribute that can be paid to such a man is to continue the push for such activities. Ensure the survival of these programs for future students. Do it through donation. Do it through volunteering. Do it through government.

Me...I'll do it because Big Ray wrote me a letter.

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