On Thursday evening, Jan. 16, Wagner College and the Wagner College Theatre were honored by Staten Island’s Minty Organization for the Performing Arts with its inaugural Community Enrichment Award. Felicia Ruff, chair of Wagner’s Theatre Department, accepted the award on behalf of the college.
The Minty Organization is the parent company of the Minty Awards, which for the past 4 years have saluted the best and brightest of high school theater on Staten Island. Wagner College has been a co-sponsor of the awards since their inception.
“I am thrilled to be honoring Wagner at our gala with a much-deserved Community Enrichment Award,” said Michael J. Pinto, executive director of the Minty Organization. “Wagner’s support for our program has helped us give so much back to our Island high schools. Wagner puts an effort into all its projects to focus on the community, and its support and work has bettered the Staten Island community. I am so happy to be able to honor them with this award.”
Several Wagner College alumni and students serve on the Minty board of directors, including Michael Pinto ’10, Joseph Caramanno M’11, Diana Ciavarella ’14 and Christina Moore ’12.
For more information please visit the Minty Organization's website.
Text of Felicia Ruff’s podium remarks:
I am so touched by your beautiful tribute and honored to represent Wagner College and the Wagner College Theatre Department and proud to accept this award on behalf of our president, Dr. Richard Guarasci, as well as the faculty, staff, alumni and students, which includes two former Minty winners, Joe O’Malley and Joshua Sottile. I'd also like to acknowledge my colleagues who represent our faculty, staff and alums who serve as judges for this prestigious award.
I want to thank Michael Pinto, himself a Wagner alum of whom we are so proud. I want to thank him not only for this wonderful recognition but for bringing us all together tonight and for single-handedly implementing his vision for the Minty Awards. But most of all, I want to thank him for bringing attention and support to the excellent tradition of high school theater on this Island.
Before I leave the stage I want to make two comments.
First I want to say to the teachers, parents, administrators, business people, politicians — the grownups in the room: You can NEVER go wrong supporting the arts and education. Never. Not only because of the values that theater teaches — like discipline, cooperation, striving for excellence — but because theater and all the arts matter. Theatre expands our imagination — what better gift can you give a child than the freedom to imagine.
And to the students, I want to say congratulations. You should be proud to be recognized for your excellence. But — and this may be strange to hear at the Minty Awards Gala — but please remember that theater is not a competition but a collaboration. And while the accolades, applause, and awards are fantastic, the greatest part of our art is our work — our work in the rehearsal hall, the dance studio, with our music director, our scene partner — our work for an audience. So if God has blessed you with talent, nurture it, share it but, most of all, respect it. Your talent is truly one of God's greatest blessings.
Thank you all for listening. Thank you for this awesome award. Congratulations to all of you for the amazing work you are doing in high schools.
And to you, Mr. Pinto, mazel tov for making your vision, the Minty Awards, an inspiring reality.