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LitNet's Gala - October 25, 2014

Thank you to everyone who attended the gala and to our generous sponsors.  A special thank you to Eleanore Velez, an inspiration to us all. 
 
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Project Lit

Local High School Students Interview Governor Deval Patrick and
First Lady Diane Patrick for Documentary about the Gift of Literacy
 
              A team of Monument Mountain Regional High School students travelled to the State House to interview Governor Deval Patrick and First Lady Diane Patrick for a documentary about the gift of literacy.  The team, known as PROJECT LIT, is working in partnership with the Literacy Network of South Berkshire, the largest provider of adult education in southern Berkshire County, and Black Ice Entertainment, LLC, a media and communications company based in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.  The title of the PROJECT LIT documentary, The Gift of Literacy: Pass It On, was inspired by a story told by Governor Patrick in his memoir A Reason to Believe about an act of kindness shown him when we was a teenager living on the south side of Chicago.
              PROJECT LIT team leader Alice Curtin got the idea for the documentary after attending the Literacy Network’s annual Gala in 2013.  With the support of Monument Mountain Regional High School Principal, Marianne Young, Curtin put together a team of Monument Mountain students to interview, film and edit the piece under the professional direction of Black Ice President John Whalan.  The PROJECT LIT team includes Joseph Grochmal, Ruthie Lee, John Bianco and Haley Barbieri, who worked during the spring and summer to develop material for the documentary and will complete their work editing the material this fall. 
              In the State House press room earlier this month, Curtin asked Governor Deval Patrick about those who had inspired him when he was young.  Patrick told the story of boarding a city bus on the South Side of Chicago when he was 14 with not enough money to cover the fare.  Patrick saw the bus driver size him up and Patrick prepared himself to be tossed from the bus.  Instead, the bus driver surprised Patrick by forgiving the shortfall, saying “just pass it on son, just pass it on,” a random act of kindness that had a profound impact on Patrick.
When asked by student interviewer Grochmal about those who had inspired her to give back, First Lady Diane Patrick pointed to her mother, a teacher, in whose footsteps Diane Patrick followed when she began her own early teaching career in under-resourced schools in the New York City public school system.  There she developed a special and deep commitment to helping children and their families gain access to the resources they need to “make better lives for themselves and their families that come after them.”
              Reflecting on the student team’s time with the Governor and First Lady, Curtin said: “It was amazing.  We had researched the Governor’s and First Lady’s backgrounds to prepare for the interviews, but hearing their stories in person made them so much more real and profound.  It was wonderful to hear the Governor talk about his optimism in our generation. He sees in us a sense of service – at least when we are ready to look up from our MacBooks and iPhones -- and a level of tolerance different and better than in earlier generations.  And Mrs. Patrick was so impressive, kind, and generous with her time.  They were both truly inspiring.”
              In addition to the Patricks, the documentary will feature an interview of Eleanore Velez, an admissions counselor and multicultural coordinator at Berkshire Community College, who will be honored, together with Governor Patrick and First Lady Patrick, with the Literacy Network’s 2014 Founder of America awards.   Also interviewed for the documentary were three Literacy Network students, Domerica Chairez, Marcello Melendez, and Carolyn Brown, each with inspiring stories of their own. 
              The Project Lit documentary will be shown at Literacy Network’s annual Gala, October 25, 2014 at Berkshire Country Day School.  LitNet’s Executive Director, Laura Qualliotine has said, “I’m excited to see how this talented group of students weaves the stories together, and in the process, creates a new one about the power of generosity.  Their commitment to this project, their desire to help others, and their willingness to support LitNet’s efforts is inspirational.”
 

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