Show raised funds to honor late HCC chief

February 25, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE |
  • Fallen Sparrow lead vocalist, Matthew Cable, left, and bass player, Conrad Meyland, open the variety show Saturday night at the new Performing & Visual Arts Education Center/Kepler Theater.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

Musical performances of all styles and sounds drew a large crowd Saturday to Hagerstown Community College’s Kepler Theater for a benefit variety show to help build a sculpture to honor a longtime college dignitary.

Close to 100 people packed inside the theater building’s recently finished “black box” room for the 15-act show, which included everything from heavily amplified rock music to piano to solo vocalist performances.

Put on by the Robinwood Players Theater Club, the event is one of many fundraisers the club has hosted in support of the sculpture project in memory of Atlee C. Kepler, the school’s first president who helped shape HCC into the campus that it is today, adviser Robin Shaner said.

“What started out as a small project ... really snowballed into this fantastic sculpture that we’ve had commissioned,” Shaner said.

Shaner said Experience Design, a Boston-based firm, is developing and installing the sculpture, which is scheduled to be unveiled to the public on March 30 during a dedication ceremony for the newly renovated Kepler Theater and the new Performing and Visual Arts Education Center on campus.

With a goal of $12,000 for the sculpture, Shaner said the club has raised about $8,000 to date, but more fundraisers are in the works.

Saturday night’s event, which included current HCC students as well as faculty, staff and alumni, helped the club move a little bit closer to that goal, Shaner said.

People still were pouring in the doors as the first act was getting ready to take the stage at 7 p.m. It was standing room only inside the room despite more than 20 additional seats put out by event organizers just before the start time.

“It’s great,” Shaner said. “The arts are alive here on campus, and it just means a lot to see everybody come back and support us.”

Danny Webber of Hagerstown, an HCC instructor of art, music and humanities, attended the event both as an onlooker and performer. Webber watched the first few acts from the sidelines before taking the stage for his solo guitar act.

Webber said a few of his students also were performing, and it was great to see an event inside the same building where his office is located.

“It’s wonderful to see such an exuberant turnout,” he said.

Kepler was a driving force that helped shape Hagerstown Community College into the campus that it is today. He was appointed dean of then-Hagerstown Junior College in 1953 and president in 1961.

The longest serving community college president in the country when he retired in 1986, Kepler passed away in April 2010 at the age of 88. He served more than 30 years as an administrative head for HJC before the school’s name was changed to Hagerstown Community College in 1998.

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