On the evening of Friday, July 20, over 100 friends, current and past Summer Arts staff, faculty, and alumni gathered in the Roy Campus Center to celebrate Summer Arts at Derby
Guests were treated to a trip down memory lane as a plethora of photos adorned the walls in the Brown Art Gallery, showcasing the many activities and decades of Summer Arts campers. After enjoying time catching up, sharing memories, and light refreshments, the entertainment portion of the night kicked-off with the Summer Arts favorite, “Funga Alafia,” a traditional West African welcome song.
Head of School Joe Perry greeted guests and recognized Summer Arts Director Thalia McMillion and assistant director Susan Ploss for their three decades of service to Derby and the South Shore community.
“I would like to start by saying ‘thank you’ to YOU, you who have been the campers, who have been the workers, who have been the counselors, the inspiration of Derby Summer Arts for so long,” said Mr. Perry. “You have inspired, you have grown, you have worked with wonderful people who are all around you right now, and I thank you all for coming home to this family reunion.”
Thalia shared his sentiment, addressing the crowd, reflecting on the timeless nature of Summer Arts and the familial bonds it has helped form.
“I can’t believe it’s been 30 years,” mused Thalia. “It doesn’t feel like that because we are family. We are all part of the same Summer Arts family and it is very, very special. Over the years a lot of things have changed, but when the kids come in here on the first day of Summer Arts; I can see you as eight-year-olds and it’s the same feeling, it’s the same spirit. It’s our happiest time of year and it’s our happiest place to be. I wanted to thank everyone for making this possible – you have made our lives extra special!”
The laughs continued with performances by Summer Arts alumni that showcased tap dancers, an improv act, a duet, a magician, and a jazz ensemble. The creativity and spirit of the program continued throughout the evening with a dinner reception, more socializing, and more free-spirited jam sessions.
Thank you to all our returning staff and campers who helped celebrate the program, the people, the arts, and the community that has helped transform so many lives over the course of three decades on the South Shore!