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Honoring Eugene D. Nesin: Dedication Ceremony Touches the Heart of the School Community

June 2011

Monticello Central School District personnel, students, alumni and community members gathered together to honor the memory and contributions of one their community heroes – Eugene Nesin.Eugene Nesin’s grandchildren Samantha and Alexander Bisland with Monticello High School Assistant Principal Lori Orestano-James opened the ceremony with the “Pledge of Allegiance"

The June 5 event took place at the St. John Street Education Center in Monticello at which time, the theater located in the building was officially dedicated as the Eugene D. Nesin Theatre for the Performing Arts. Mr. Nesin served on the Monticello Board of Education for 33 years until his untimely death in 2009. He was a staunch advocate for the arts in education and was uncompromising in his vision of a quality arts program for all students.

Monticello High School Assistant Principal Lori Orestano-James welcomed the large crowd and introduced the many guest speakers and performers to the stage. Those included the Monticello High School Chamber Singers, NY State School Boards Association Executive Director Tim Kremer, board president Susan Purcell, Weekend of Chamber Music representative Judith Pearce, American Virtuosi resident artists with Kenneth Hamrick, Elementary School Early Music Consorts, NY State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, NY State Senator John Bonacic representative Linda Cellini and Forestburgh Playhouse Managing Director Norman Duttweiler.

The day’s event was filled with music, eulogies and tears from many in the crowd. Yet it was also a day to celebrate the many worthy contributions that built the Eugene Nesin legacy.

#2: From left, Monticello alumnus Jared Goldstein, current school board member, Eugene Nesin’s widow, Ellen Nesin, alumna Marina Lombardi and Monticello High School music teacher and orchestra conductor Nancy Wegrzyn convene in the hallway before the dedication ceremonyIn remembering Mr. Nesin, Class of 2006 alumnus Joseph D’Abbraccio, who served as a student representative on the school board, expressed that he had never met “any other individual who cared as much about the education of children.”

Past board member Robert Rosengard emphasized how Mr. Nesin was “tenacious in his insistence for fairness and his devotion to young people.”

Nesin Scholarship recipient Marina Lombardi (Class of 2010) commended Mr. Nesin for always being “an advocate for students, for supporting the performing arts and for being an inspiration to others.”

Class of 2007 alumnus Jared Goldstein, presently a graduate student in vocal performance at Brooklyn College, performed two songs with deep emotion and intensity as a tribute to Mr. Nesin. He also thanked the Monticello Schools music teachers for helping guide his career and for “seeing something in him that he didn’t know was there.”

The ceremony culminated with a performance by two Class of 1987 alumni who have risen to worldwide acclaim in the music field – pianist Christopher Bradshaw and Metropolitan Opera singer Stephanie Blythe.

photo of Ms. BlytheMs. Blythe (pictured right) drove 23 hours straight to appear on the stage that she identified as the “very first stage” on which she had ever performed. She spoke about how the music teachers in the district “saved her life” by giving her a safe place to learn and a creative outlet to express her talents. She then proceeded to perform a song from the opera “Carmen.”

When she sang, her voice exploded with passion and brought the crowd to its feet. Her awe-inspiring performance was the perfect example of what Eugene Nesin fought for all those years. He would have been proud.

For more information about the Eugene Nesin Theatre or to support the community partnership of arts in education, please visit www.nesinculturalarts.org.

CLICK HERE to read this story, printed as, " Monticello honors beloved leader Eugene Nesin," in the Times Herald-Record.

 

Photos: #1: From left, Eugene Nesin’s grandchildren Samantha and Alexander Bisland with Monticello High School Assistant Principal Lori Orestano-James opened the ceremony with the “Pledge of Allegiance.” Both youngsters attend the Robert J. Kaiser Middle School. Also pictured is the painting of Eugene Nesin that will permanently hang in the lobby of the new theater.

#2: From left, Monticello alumnus Jared Goldstein, current school board member, Eugene Nesin’s widow, Ellen Nesin, alumna Marina Lombardi and Monticello High School music teacher and orchestra conductor Nancy Wegrzyn convene in the hallway before the dedication ceremony.