The Duane Smith Auditorium at Los Alamos High School. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com
By PAUL HORPEDAHL
LAHS Class of 1975
At 6 p.m. Friday, March 17, a group of LAHS alumni and supporters will gather in the lobby of The Duane Smith auditorium to dedicate the stage in the name of Ross and Lola Ramsey.
We hope the Los Alamos community will join us and members of the Ramsey family (grandchildren and great-grandchildren) before the Olions production of Pippin to honor a name that should be associated with every production that takes place on the stage of this majestic auditorium.
The Ramseys founded The Olions, the drama group that has been bringing plays, musicals and the Topper Revue to the community for decades. More importantly, they were great educators and mentors who helped students find their hidden talents and build self-esteem. The theatre organization they founded in 1951 still fosters a place for students to find their creativity, discover teamwork and leave their high school years with strength and understanding of themselves.
It has been too long in creating an appropriate salute that recognizes the impact they had on so many lives. We leave high school in a hurry to leap into adulthood and don’t always realize how our teachers have prepared us for our next steps and the challenges and opportunities we will face. So many of our early mentors are found in the classroom and the after-school organizations that we easily take for granted. Taking a moment to recognize people like the Ramseys does a few things.
First, it honors two people who have been gone for over 40 years alongside family members who have never had the opportunity to hear how their grandparents and great-grandparents influenced the lives of so many young people.
Second, the fundraising effort has enabled both the installation of new state-of-the-art stage lighting, and – more importantly – an annual scholarship that will allow future Olions to consider the deep and strong roots of The Olions and the current mentors whom they are about to leave.
Finally, we hope it will further recognize the impact our teachers, past and present, who lead, coach, and manage extracurricular activities that help students succeed as they discover who they are and where they are going.
Throughout its history, Los Alamos has built a great tradition of theatre stemming from two people who had a vision and a love of the performing arts. Many past Olions have shared wonderful memories of the Ramseys. Among those memories are these words written by Richard Leland, a 1964 LAHS alumnus who beautifully describes his former English teacher, Ross Ramsey:
He loved the language; he loved poetry, but most of all he loved what the theatre can reveal about us, about our conflicts, our stature as human beings, our dignity in the pursuit of human expression and performance.
If you were an Olion, no matter the generation, please join us Friday for this ceremony as we unveil a permanent plaque that will be mounted backstage next to the stage doors. Then join us and as we watch and applaud the very first performance on “The Ramsey Stage”, The Olions production of “Pippin”! Join us to celebrate the “grandparents” of theatre in Los Alamos — Ross and Lola Ramsey!