(PAOLI) - A ceremony at 2 p.m. on Nov. 18 will mark the naming of the Paoli High School auditorium in honor of longtime teacher and performing arts supporter Ruth Farlow Uyesugi.
Roger Moon of the Times-Mail reports that Uyesugi, who is 88 and still teaches one class a day at PHS, has helped students develop their interest in acting, and also helped provide a venue for adults from throughout Orange County and surrounding communities to participate in theater. Uyesugi was a founding member of Orange County Players more than 40 years ago and still sits on the community theater's board of directors.
As a member of the committee organizing the dedication, Sarann Weeks, a retired PHS librarian, said she's hoping to see a big crowd turn out for the event to show appreciation to Uyesugi.
"There's more to Ruth than just this auditorium," Weeks said. She mentioned the influence Uyesugi has had on students she taught in journalism classes. Uyesugi was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 1999.
Weeks also pointed to Uyesugi once having been named a finalist for Indiana Teacher of the Year, being a published author, and being involved in the community. That includes Uyesugi's active involvement over the years in organizing a free Thanksgiving Day meal for the community's residents.
At times throughout the years, Weeks worked side by side with Uyesugi in helping students demonstrate their performing arts talents. "She and I did prom entertainment and variety shows, helping the student get up in front of people," Weeks said.
Among Uyesugi's former students is Gary Spear, who now lives in Mitchell and works as a youth minister.
"What she did in my life was create a pocket of hope for me to feel like I could achieve something within and from that foundation," Spear said. "I know she cared personally about how I did. She helped me create faith in myself ... and hope that I could become someone who could go out and affect the world in a positive way."
Spear now is a member of the OCP board of directors. He also directs the OCP's annual madrigal, in which Uyesugi often has participated. Spear said singers from this yuletide season's madrigal cast will sing at least one song at the ceremony.
Other participants in the event will include Bill McDonald, president of the Paoli school board; Casey Brester, present PHS principal, and James Babcock, a retired PHS principal who worked with Uyesugi for decades.
Babcock said he believes that, of all the honors Uyesugi has received, "the naming of the new auditorium tops them all."
He added, "My guess is that she would like most to be remembered as a dedicated teacher of English and journalism and the thousands of students who benefited from her expertise and knowledge.
"Many of her former students have distinguished themselves by devoting their lives in similar fields of endeavor due to her influence. ... She is truly a community treasure."
Uyesugi, after learning the auditorium would be named for her, told the Times-Mail, "I cry every time I think about it. This was just such a shock. I am so happy."
Well-wishers who attend the event are encouraged to bring a card in which they share their memories. Those cards later will go into a memory book that is being prepared for Uyesugi.
A reception will follow the dedication ceremony.
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