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Published: Thursday, 1/26/2006

St. Francis celebrates its new home for the arts

The gray days of winter have not stopped Toledo folks from getting together for fun.

ST. FRANCIS de Sales High School has been in a whirl since its golden anniversary last year. And Sunday the school boomed into the next half-century in style with a celebration of its new arts wing. The reception, "Knightfest: A Celebration of the Arts," was a festive occasion with lots of pomp and circumstance. Guests nibbled delicious desserts while creativity filled the air. The evening started with the National Anthem played by the SFS band. Then it was everything from classical music to show tunes, plus an exhibit of visual arts by students.

Performing were the Singing Blue men's chorus; Joe Sferra, a junior, who played a clarinet solo; Mark Blowers, a sophomore, who played a trumpet solo, and James Richardson, a junior, who played the piano - he is one of those lucky ones who can play a piece after simply hearing it. There also was a preview of the school's production of West Side Story. The musical is slated for May 5 and 6 and May 12 and 13.

Extra special was the performance by the Toledo Symphony Brass Quintet and the SFS Concert Band of "The St. Francis de Sales High School 50th Anniversary Fanfare" by William D. McDevitt, a member of the quintet. The grand finale came when the band and chorus performed Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 finale.

Brothers Phil, left, David, and Joel Andryc at 'Knightfest: A Celebration of the Arts' at St. Francis de Sales High School Brothers Phil, left, David, and Joel Andryc at 'Knightfest: A Celebration of the Arts' at St. Francis de Sales High School
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While the evening was not a fund-raiser, it still garnered more than $10,000. That's thanks to generous donations as well as the proceeds from the silent auction. The Rev. Ron Olszewski donated a work that he made. There was also a Pete Beckmann painting; art by teachers; tickets to the Peter Nero concert, part of the Toledo Symphony Pops series; patron tickets to the SFS musical; tickets to the Theater League production of Cats, and a St. Francis de Sales 50th anniversary poster designed, signed, and framed by Kathy Rennels.

Proceeds benefit arts funds in memory of two artistically talented students: The Timothy Peterson Memorial Fund is in memory of the freshman who died in 2004 in the midst of rehearsals for The Music Man. The Eugene Williams Endowment for the Arts is in memory of Eugene Williams, class of '74, who was involved in the musicals and the band.

Among the 250 revelers were special guests, members of the Andryc family, the major benefactors of the new arts wing.

The event chairman was Anne Marie Blank.

SWIM, swam, swum. Members of the Greater Toledo Aquatic Club (GTAC) glided through the water of the St. Francis de Sales swimming pool Monday night for the sake of charity. GTAC, in its 34th year, is one of only 60 USA swim clubs officially recognized as a USA Swimming Club of Excellence.

More than 40 of GTAC's competitive swimmers ages 6 to 18 swam laps from 5 to 7 p.m. during the fourth annual Swimfest to raise funds for GTAC's outreach programs. In addition to competitive swimming, the club offers swimming instruction for children with disabilities; sponsors training at the Detroit Avenue Boys & Girls Club and the downtown Catholic Club, and goes into central city schools to teach water safety. "GTAC wants everyone to learn how to swim," says head coach Keith Kennedy. "Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among urban children under age 15. In addition, aquatics is the best sport for children of every ability because water provides buoyancy and does not harm tendons or bones."

The swimmer in the ages11- and-up group who swam the farthest during the two-hour period was Dan Miller, 12, who completed 115 laps (50 yards each) for a total of 5,750 yards or 3.26 miles. Among the 8-and- under swimmers, Ansley Mills, 8, was the top swimmer with 4,000 yards.

The event was the last hurrah for board president Barry Quattromani before he turns the gavel over to Mark Trimble, who will take the reins at the end of the month.

The totals are not in yet, but it looks like the club will raise more than $6,000 from the event and surpass last year's amount. That's thanks to chairmen Sue Borer and Gina Carter, who organized the event and made sure the group was well-fed after all of that hard work.

CLARA J's AT 219, a tea room in Maumee, was the scene for a party Friday in honor of birthday gal Ann Wing.

The quaint place for proper tea is in an 1833 home on West Wayne Street - 219, to be exact. Ladies sipped assorted Harney & Sons fine teas poured from china pots and served in a variety of china cups. Appetites were sated with scones with Devonshire cream, lemon curd, and jam, and savory sandwiches and sweets served on silver three-tiered trays. Of course, linen tablecloths and napkins were a must for the fancy affair.

A style show added to the afternoon's entertainment. It was the first of a series of fashion shows to be presented the third Friday of each month. Featured in the inaugural show were fashions by Weekenders. Also, jackets by Nanca Bartell are on display and for sale daily.

Back to the birthday party: Friends who celebrated with Mrs. Wing were Nan Hagemeyer, Dee Herman, Margot Reichert, Barb Sackman, and Jeannie Rerucha.

The tea room makes all the goodies on premises, and the place holds only 44 people, so reservations are necessary if you want a smashing good time.

LEW HELDT has kept a low profile on the social scene, but he is still around in support of the community. Friday night was the University of Toledo Varsity "T" Hall of Fame banquet at The Pinnacle. Mr. Heldt attended the dinner in support of Erin Jamieson, a swimmer from 1992 to '96, who was a two-time recipient of the Ruth Hawkins Heldt Most Valuable Swimmer Award. The award was started in memory of Mr. Heldt's late wife, Ruth.

Celebrating the occasion as guests of Mr. Heldt were Edith Rathbun, Michael Bordner, Shirley and Ron Brancheau, Cindy Rockwell and son Jeff Rockwell, Larry Weis, Kathy Rike, Millie and Robert Dierker, JoeAnn Erskine, and Peggy Grant. Mrs. Grant was delighted to be there because Aaron Bivins, a football star from 1974-77, was also inducted that night into the hall of fame. Mr. Bivins will exhibit his artwork in the upcoming Black History Month show at 20 North Gallery, where Mrs. Grant is artistic director.

Also with Mr. Heldt's group were Dorothy Byers, Mary Lou Merrill, Donna Netterfield, and Carol Lee Rice, who were Chi Omega sorority gals at UT, and Jean Burtch, whose daughter, Laura, swam the English Channel a few years ago. And, Tom Hage, there with wife Robyn; He was Rocky the Rocket in his college days. And who can forget John Ross? He won 35 football games with UT star Chuck Ealey in his heyday.

Other inductees that night included Lisa Donnelly Denstorf, women's tennis, 1986-90; Henry Patterson, men's track and field, 1994-97; Jane Roman, women's basketball, 1989-1992; Wasean Tait, football, 1993-98, and Ted Williams, men's basketball, 1974-78.



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