It Takes a Village

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RodO… photo courtesy of Jasmine Osiowy

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Henry Brooks Adams

As originally published in e-Know:

Mount Baker Wild Theatre’s spring musical production of the Drowsy Chaperone played May 7th at the Keys City Theatre. For those who have enjoyed the amazing Baker productions for the past many years, they will know this play marked the close of an era. The youngest group of students who had the privilege of working with the late, great Rod Osiowy are getting ready to graduate.

Rod was a special teacher. He believed in expanding and opening the high school’s theatre productions to include the whole community. It was not uncommon to see the chorus or main characters being played by local business people, clergy, and other pillars of society. And Rod encouraged children from the local elementary and middle schools to join the casts. Rod called it stocking the farm team. He knew that the love of theatre, when instilled at a young age, would carry through into the teen years. By the time the children who began performing as young as 5 years old got to high school, they would be seasoned performers, ready for whatever challenge Rod might throw their way.

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RodO and Evan… Photo courtesy of Jasmine Osiowy

Grease, Beauty and the Beast, Jesus Christ Superstar, Anything Goes, Seussical and Les Miserables, just to name a few, Rod Osiowy along with his partner in crime, Musical Director Evan Bueckert managed to create theatrical experiences far exceeding the expectation for a high school production. But more than that, Rod taught each person who worked with him the importance of being a part of the team.

It was a grand tradition. Opening night of each show Rod gave the Village speech. It went something like this:

A high school production is like a village. All sorts of people are part of the village. You have the Mayor and Council members, who look after the townsfolk and make sure that things are fair for everyone. There are the law makers and the ones who enforce them. There are trades people and artisans, builders and business people. All of the townsfolk are vital, important and have their own unique purpose. And of course you have the lovable village idiot (and Rod would point to himself, causing great gales of laughter). The thing about a village is that every person is important and nobody matters more or less than anyone else. We work together for the success of the village and we remember that the energy we bring will affect everyone. Attitudes are contagious, so make sure yours is worth catching.

Important life lessons from Rod Osiowy.

Tessa Charlton who played Mrs. Tottendale in the Drowsy Chaperone recalls: “Rod had a way of making everyone feel special. I loved to be the center of attention but Rod helped facilitate that diva in me in a productive way. Towards the end of one of the rehearsals we had for Beauty and the Beast, Rod approached me and complimented my eye for the number we had just been working on and asked if I’d address the cast with my opinion on what we needed to work on. I felt like the most special kid in the world, even If I was just an 11 year old kid playing a dancing tea cup.”

And Eve Sperling remembers: “He always knew how to make us laugh and he was so easygoing but just strict enough to keep all us hooligan kids under control. He always had a smile on his face and a joke ready, and he remembered everyone’s names, even if they were a small chorus part that to anyone else would be ‘insignificant’.”

The Village metaphor is kept alive and well by the young people who worked with Rod, carrying on a legacy of inclusion and mentorship. Tyrel Hawke, who graduated several years ago, has returned to the area to work as an RN at the Cranbrook & District Hospital. Hawke volunteered as the vocal coach and pianist for the production.

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Tyrel Hawke… photo by Julian Bueckert

“Quite often I’m asked why I volunteer my time for this program, and my answer is pretty simple. During the awkward point of my life I call high school, Rod and Evan took hundreds of hours out of their lives to spend with kids like myself and help us create something amazing. This led to confidence and purpose for me during high school and careers and opportunities ever since. Rod had a way of making each one of us feel special and that we can always try harder to achieve something great. I am forever indebted to Rod, Evan, and the Baker arts program. I’m still stopped occasionally by people saying, ‘aren’t you that Jean Valjean boy?’ ten years after we did Les Mis. I do these shows for the spirit of Rod, my younger self, and these kids that have a lot more drive and dedication than many adults I know.”

Bethany Turcon is the new Drama Teacher at Mount Baker and was the Director of the Drowsy Chaperone. This was Turcon’s first experience as a director and she managed to create a production worthy of all that have come before. Along with Evan Bueckert and Stephanie Tichauer, and a host of other fine and dedicated designers, musicians, technicians and volunteers, Ms. Turcon created another Village, one that lived up to the legacy created by Rod Osiowy.

Everyone should have a teacher as great as Rod Osiowy. Thankfully his legacy lives on in the fine work and dedication of the students and colleagues who carry on in the village he created.

My Guilty Pleasures

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Back in the days before that snazzy invention, the Kindle, I read A Moveable Feast by Hemingway, dozens of times.  I literally spent hours and hours, sitting in the sun, with my nose in that book, completely swept away.

Funny thing, though:  I’ve never actually read it.

You see, I have a dirty little secret:   I adore trashy romance novels.  During the summer months when I wander outside to sit on a beach or under a tree to read my pulp fiction, I have been determined to hide this shame.  So when I found an old copy of A Moveable Feast with the cover entirely detached,  I knew I had found the perfect solution to my dilemma.  Wrapped around those bodice ripping beach books, the Moveable Feast cover was the perfect cloak of secrecy.  Nobody would be the wiser.  You see A Moveable Feast is one of those books people know about, consider a literary classic, but has anyone actually read it?  I think not.   So I knew I wouldn’t have to discuss it.  I could just wrap that handy cover around whatever scrumptious trash I was reading and know that people would walk by, take note of the classic I was reading and give me a wide berth.  And surely they would think, “my goodness what an intelligent and no nonsense woman”.

Ahhhh those guilty pleasures in life.

But hold on a second.   When you stop to really think about it, what kind of craziness is this?  What insanity has us taking something as wonderful as Pleasure and attaching guilt to it?  Pleasure is one of the highest vibrations we can experience.  Akin to bliss, joy and happiness, Pleasure is one of those amazing gifts that we should embrace in this human experience.

Guilt on the other hand, is not.  Guilt is shrouded in shame, which is one of the lowest vibrations we as humans can experience.  Shame takes away our strength. Literally.

 In Power vs Force, Dr. David R. Hawkins describes how he used kinesiology (“muscle testing”) to investigate consciousness. He basically created a scale mapping the human experience of emotions and determined whether each state of consciousness would enhance or deplete our strength.  Muscle strength is rated between 1 and 1000 with the high end being those things like joy, happiness and Pleasure.

And at the other end?  You guessed it:  SHAME.  GUILT.  Those nasty self-recriminations that let the air out of our proverbial balloons and leave us deflated and dragging on the ground instead of floating in the air, as we could be.

Shame on you, Shame!  You should feel terribly guilty about this!

Armed with this new knowledge I am making it my intention to experience the Pleasures in my life without guilt or shame.  I am going to sing along loud and proud with my John Denver CD.  I am going to openly watch the Bachelor with my daughter, and probably trash talk the participants.  I am going to eat salt and vinegar chips dipped in dill pickle dip without apology.  And I am going to read my trashy romance novels right out in the open for all to see.

Because, as my American husband wisely points out:  There’s nothing trashy about romance.