Love where you live!
LA JOLLA -- Dr. Mark Arapostathis, director of La Mesa's Peter Pan Junior Theater, received the Bravissimo Community Star Award Monday night at a ceremony at the La Jolla Playhouse.
The award, given just once before, was awarded in honor of what the San Diego Educational Theatre Association called Arapostathis' "Herculian'' effort in leading the local junior theater troup for decades.
The organization noted that "Dr. A,'' as he is called, not only produces good singers and dancers, but he operates at a "college level'' and makes character development a central part of his arts teaching technique.
Arapostathis is a second grade teacher with the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District, but he operates the theater as an independent entity and receives no pay for the hundreds of hours of teaching and coaching his plays require. The district lends rehearsal space and grants students time away from class for "play week.''
Arapostathis also started the C. Hook Theater four years ago to expand his efforts to the high school years. His organization, funded fully by parents, ticket sales and community donations have also developed a professional quality scene and costume shop located across the street from La Mesa Middle School.
At Monday night's ceremony, Arapostathis was flanked by many of the key partners he has had in the theater group, including his mother Elaine, Kelley McGrue and Rhonda Archer. Also in attendance was Robert Kuhne, founder of PPJT who first had Arapostathis as a fifth grader in one of his early productions. Arapostathis later returned to the group and assumed leadership when Kuhne retired. (Though "retired'' is a relative word as Kuhne actually left the scene shop Monday to attend the award ceremony.)
After the award ceremony, the La Mesa contingent gathered in the theater lobby for dessert and to mingle with theater educators from across the county. The "Bravissimo'' awards are a joint effort of the San Diego Educational Theatre Association with the San Diego County Office of Education. Presented with representatives of The Old Globe and La Jolla Playhouse theater organizations, the annual awards are meant to recognize and encourage innovation and support for the arts in education.