In 10 years Shapiro Fund has given $50k to school drama, cultural events

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Robert Shapiro Fund for Warwick Schools has marked its 10th year of supporting drama programs in Warwick schools.

The fund, created by late Superintendent Robert Shariro after his retirement, provided its first check to the Pilgrim High School drama club in October 2007.

Rather than receive gifts at his retirement party held at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet to a capacity crowd, Shapiro asked well-wishers to donate to the tax-deductible 501(c)3 fund so that all students could continue to benefit from his desire to provide a well-rounded education to each.

In the succeeding years, more than $50,000 has been donated to all Warwick public schools to support a range of programs. Initially the fund was earmarked for drama productions in secondary schools. Beginning in 2013, the fund under the chairmanship of John Thompson expanded its reach to elementary schools, awarding grants to provide cultural arts and science activities not supported by the school budget.

Joe Coffey, principal at Holliman, said “Several years ago, we first used Robert J. Shapiro funding to initiate a drama program here at Holliman School. Today it remains the most popular of our after school programs. Many parents have credited the program with adding to their children's level of confidence and appreciation of theater.”

Sherman’s principal Michelle Paton and Hoxsie’s principal Gary McCoombs both report using the funds to support the Chance to Dance program which has been shown to increase self-esteem and confidence, help develop coordination and motor skills, and create and develop an appreciation for dance, music and other art forms. Greenwood principal Kenneth Rassler thanks the fund “for the continuation of support for my school in bringing the Arts into the school through assemblies and other programs. Without this support, it would be difficult to expose my children to these types of unique experiences."

Shapiro’s educational career spanned 50 years, first as a Warwick teacher, then as founding principal of Toll Gate High School and followed by over a decade as Superintendent in Warwick. His commitment to all students was legendary.

Upon his death in 2012, his wife Audrey and sons Steven and Andrew directed additional contributions to the fund to help all Warwick students. The fund continues to accept contributions (send to The Robert Shapiro Fund for Warwick Schools, c/o Dr. John Thompson, 80 Hallmark Dr., Warwick, RI 02886).

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