Celebrating achievements, entertainment

By Lois Caplan

COLLEGE BOUND’S CAP AND GOWN BALL on Saturday, June 9 celebrates an outstanding accomplishment. Six years ago, 36 students enrolled for a better future in College Bound, a new St. Louis based non-profit that empowers local at-risk high school students to complete college and enter the workforce. Now the first class of students is ready to graduate and they will be honored at College Bound’s fifth annual Cap and Gown gala event. To join the festivities at the Hyatt Regency at the Arch, contact Lisa Weingarth at 314-361-4441 or [email protected] Now there are 469 students attending 39 local high schools and 70 colleges and universities throughout the country in this seven-year program that begins at the end of a student’s freshman year of high school and follows them through their college graduation. This is a unique program in St. Louis, the only one of its kind with a year-round curriculum that includes career exposure, community engagement, test preparation and academic enrichment so that students not only get to college, but they graduate from college. I am not the only one in awe of this program. It has received support and recognition from the Education Policy Institute, Missouri Department of Higher Education, ACT, United Way, Bank of America and others.

THE FIRST (AND LAST) TIME I WROTE ABOUT ALS was a few years ago when my friend Sam Goldstein was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Unless I am badly mistaken, there has been little progress since then in determining the cause and treatment of ALS, a progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of its ability to walk, speak, swallow or breathe. Makes me realize how important a fundraising Walk to Defeat ALS is.  There will be one on Saturday, June 30 in Forest Park, starting and finishing in front of the Visitor/Education Center.  The purpose of the walk is to increase awareness of ALS and raise funds for local patient programs and national research. Individuals and teams can register online at www.walktodefeatals.org, by calling the Association’s office at 314-432-7257 or at the walk from 9 to 10 a.m. immediately prior to the beginning of the walk.

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After seeing the NEW JEWISH THEATRE’s final play of the season, “Jacob And Jack,” (a rollicking evening of fun) I can hardly wait for the 2012-2013 season. Five outstanding plays will be offered, starting with Neil Simon’s “Lost in Younkers,” and followed by “Talley’s Folly” by Lanford Wilson, “Speed the Plow” by David Mamet, “Conviction” by Oren Neeman and “Schlemiel the First,” a joyous Klezmer musical based on a tale by Isaac Bashevis Singer. They are all under the guidance of the remarkable Kathleen Sitzer, who also produces the Gesher Music Festival.  This year’s Gesher Festival runs from June 24 to July 1. It is chamber music featuring young, professional musicians for a one-week experience of music and education. Stay tuned for more.

THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE READ ME FOR THE PAST 47 PLUS YEARS, know I am a circus freak. Circus Flora knows this, too, which is why it invites me to its events. The one I love most is the Flora Dora gala, combining circus with food and drink from St. Louis’ finest restaurants (and a live auction, dancing in the center ring and a special performance). It all happens this Friday night, May 25 at 7 p.m. in the big top tent in Grand Center. Tickets, which range from $50 for an individual under 30 to $150 per person, can be ordered at 314-289-4043. Better yet, visit brownpapertickets.com for instant attention. Proceeds benefit Circus Flora’s educational outreach program. Its 2012 production, “The Wizard,” runs under the Big Top near Powell Hall from May 31 to June 24.