The fine arts are more than part of the curriculum at Steward; the arts are a truth that bind us together, Head of School Dan Frank said last Thursday night when Steward celebrated our inaugural Arts Hall of Fame. He thanked them for their time, creativity, and truth while at Steward, and for their lives-long commitments to the arts.
On Jan. 31, we inducted seven people, including both alumni and retired faculty, into the newly formed Fine Arts Hall of Fame. The engaged crowd at the event included more than 100 members of the community from throughout our nearly 50-year history. Lynn Zinder, Visual Arts Chair, and Craig Smith, Performing Arts Chair, hosted the ceremony in the Paul R. Cramer Center for the Arts.
Mr. Cramer himself was the first inductee, and alumna Mary Hollis Jupe ‘84 spoke from the heart about Mr. Cramer’s impact on her own life and those of so many others, both students and faculty. She said “I can honestly say I am here today, a happy, healthy, and thriving adult, because Mr. Cramer took a chance on me and believed in me. And it was his never-ending belief in people and the future that helped spark this magnificent fine arts program here at Steward.”
Ms. Jupe went on to describe the school’s long-standing tradition of excellence in the fine arts, and how Steward's administrators and faculty have contributed in so many ways, from making costumes and building sets in the wee hours of the morning to tirelessly supporting student artists, giving them confidence and a creative outlet.
She spoke of inductee Marge Hassan, whom she described as the “backbone of the school” during her many years of working in Steward's administration. “The theatre’s biggest fan was Marge Hassan and, to my knowledge, she never missed a show. She truly was the backbone of all that went on at Steward, especially in the theatre...and kept us all together and functioning properly.”
Middle School math teacher Corbin Orgain ‘96 then introduced Bonnie Anderson, who taught music at Steward for more than 30 years. Ms. Orgain emotionally explained that not only did Ms. Anderson bring music to her own life and that of her husband, Frazier Orgain ‘95, but also her children, who are current Steward students: “Ms. Anderson created the perfect role for each child, helping those who didn’t know they had a voice find theirs and bringing children who might have been happy to stay in the background to the forefront. She is responsible for empowering hundreds of children and young adults to be proud of who they are; often, after she indeed helped them discover that truth.”
Teachers’ impact on their students remained a consistent theme as former Assistant Head of School Carolyn Brandt discussed the fourth honoree, Rugene Paulette, who also taught at Steward for more than 30 years. What greater a compliment could a teacher receive than when Ms. Brandt described Ms. Paulette by saying “With her encouragement, the students often found a talent they never knew they possessed.”
The ceremony then turned to alumni, when Grammy-winner Michael Congdon '00’s father explained how his son used his time wisely by exploring his creativity at Steward, and said “Thank you to Steward for providing the culture and environment that has so much to do with Mike’s, and other students’, successes.”
Ms. Paulette then talked about professional opera singer Stephanie Mann ‘93 and the bond between the two was still so apparent, despite the years since Ms. Mann’s time at Steward: “What a gift she was to Steward’s fine arts department [then and now]...Stephanie has never been too busy to return to Steward to share her talents with us...Even though she lives hundreds of miles away, Stephanie has never forgotten where she got her start.”
Renowned portrait artist Fielding Archer ‘80 was the final inductee honored that evening. His wife spoke of his incredible talent as well as his dedication as a husband and father. Of his years at Steward, she said, “His creativity was embraced, enabling him to flourish. He was elected student body president, thrived in art classes, was captain of the soccer team, and finally felt like he belonged.”
The idea of a belonging was a theme throughout the evening as the speakers all referenced how the arts brought people together and created positive change in the lives of both students and teachers. The ceremony was followed by a reception; to see photos from the evening, please click here.