Interfaith Pilgrimage to Europe

June 14, 2005- The first speaker for this program was Lara Leroy, Director of the Jewish Community Center and in charge of the Remembrance Program. Lara is the granddaughter of two grandparents who are survivors of the Holocaust. She has recently edited a video in cooperation with the College of Charleston about Holocaust Survivors.

Lara made an initial presentation in which she showed slides of the recent trip by 24 people to Poland to remember and reflect on the horrors of the Holocaust. Several camps were visited with special emphasis on Auschwitz. The pilgrimage of persons of all faiths is to show respect for and honor all humanity. The group gives special attention to the many memorials present at the camps and helps maintain them for posterity.

The second speaker was Joe Engel, himself a survivor of Auschwitz, having spent time there between 1942 and 1945. His emotional, heartfelt presentation touched all who listened to him speak of the terror of his experience and his dedication to ensuring that such an event can never happen again. He showed pictures of the many memorials at the camps and urged all persons to make the pilgrimage to Poland to see first hand what happened. Only by such a visit can one understand what one human being can do to another human being, persons who suffered strictly because they happened to be Jewish. He does not know why he survived, but he is the only remaining member of his family. He spoke of the “killer machine” which separated children from their parents. The world should never forget what happened there.

In response to questions from the floor, Lara and Joe made the following observations. The Holocaust Museum in Washington is well done and well worth everyone visiting. There are currently virtually no Jewish people in Poland. Most were killed and those who survived would not want to return to that area. Joe’s personal testimony has been recorded and is a part of major historical records. The Marion Square memorial is very special. Being within the city, the sponsors did not want it to be a horrific sight. Instead the wrought iron work provides a sanctuary and the sculpture within can be interpreted in many different ways, according to the image seen by the observer. It projects the victims, the perpetrators, and those who stood by and just watched.

There is an increasing amount of anti-Semitism in the world today, necessitating a state of vigil by all.


Submitted by Fred Sales, Keyway Committee

Newt Newton Tells Rotarians About The Vought-Alenia aircraft plant

June 7, 2005 – On Tuesday, Rotarians were treated to a firsthand look at Charleston’s newest manufacturing facility, the Vought-Alenia plant. Newt Newton of Vought-Alenia told us how construction is progressing at the new plant, gave us some interesting information about the Boeing 787 and then shared a few of the reasons why the city of Charleston was chosen out of 64 other candidates.

Mr. Newton began by introducing himself. He told the group that he knew from the time he was a little boy that he wanted to build airplanes. He trained as a mechanical engineer and joined the Boeing Company in 1967 only to find himself working on the first 747. Since that time, he has had the opportunity to contribute to the development of seven new Boeing models and has been involved in the start-up of five manufacturing facilities. At the Vought-Alenia plant, he will be part of the team to build the body of every 787. Materials for the fuselage will be manufactured here and together with parts flown into Charleston will make up about two-thirds of each aircraft’s fuselage.

According to Mr. Newton, this newest Boeing will bring about the advent of a new generation of aircraft. The composite material which will be manufactured here to build the 787, is the key that will bring about this change. The new material consists of fibers about 2 times the diameter of a single hair. Untold numbers of fibers are sealed together with an epoxy-type glue and then submitted to enormous pressure. The result is a material which is lighter than aluminum and stronger than steel.

This composite material has been used by the military and from all reports it does not corrode, has no known fatigue life, and the process of shaping it is incredibly versatile. When used on airplanes, the plan will be 25% lighter and 20% – 25% more efficient than any plane in existence. Additionally, the Boeing 787 will be completely e-enabled. That is, a passenger can take his or her cell phone, computer, or blackberry around the world and stay in touch with the office even while in flight.

Vought-Alenia will employ about 1000 people. Approximately 75% will come from the Charleston area. Since the plant will have such a high need for continuous and on-going training, they will have a training center located right at the work site. When asked why the company selected Charleston, Mr. Newton said our city stood out early in the process. The company was initially attracted to our port facilities which are located right next to a major airport. Secondly, the quality of life here in Charleston was a positive draw. Management knew they would have to ask at least 250 employees to relocate and they wanted to make the process as easy as possible. Finally, and Mr. Newton became serious at this point, “It was the friendliness of the people.” And, he warned, “Don’t ever loose that quality. It is your greatest asset.”

Submitted by Helen Harloe

Spoleto Festival is Here!
Festival directors commit to improving Charleston’s performing arts facilities

May 31, 2005 – With the 29th Spoleto Festival USA upon us, Rotarians were treated to a talk by General Director Nigel Redden. Redden gave us the “inside scoop” on some of the performances, but mainly he was here to convey that although Spoleto has had its ups and downs financially, it has been running 9 years in the black and is ready to give back to the community.

To paraphrase Barbara Williams of the Post & Courier, Spoleto has reached a level of “maturity” that comes with its share of responsibilities. Redden feels these responsibilities include investing in Charleston’s performing arts infrastructure. Charleston has long been associated with the arts, with theatres (past and present) dating back to the 18th century and rivaling some of the best in Europe (according to many). While some of these have long since been demolished, many have survived in “unfortunate” shape. One example of this is Memminger Auditorium on Beaufain Street downtown.

Memminger Auditorium is physically part of Memminger Elementary, but is too large to be used for the school as it stands today. The Theatre was basically ignored and used for storage until 2000, when Spoleto officials decided to clean it up for performances, including the Peony Pavilion, the 18 hour Chinese opera that took place in 2004. Memminger continues to serve as a Spoleto venue despite its bare bones condition and uncomfortable seating (which Redden claims was replaced thanks to seats purchased from eBay). Redden and Spoleto officials have commissioned the architect Hugh Hardy who plans to renovate the auditorium into a useful performance venue for Spoleto. The community is behind Redden and his efforts. In fact, Mayor Riley and the City of Charleston have appropriated $1 million to the renovation of Memminger. The space is especially important to restore given its location as a gathering place: the Auditorium is centrally located between many residences, businesses, and of course, Memminger Elementary.

Redden spoke of the changes we hope to see to the Auditorium, including a minor change to the facade and turning the parking lot into outdoor lobby space to make up for the lack of lobby space inside. Redden hopes the renovation will be complete by Spoleto 2007.

Renovating Memminger also provides opportunities for restoring some of Charleston’s other fine performing arts venues, including the Dock Street Theatre and eventually, the Galliard Auditorium. After successfully completing a $25 million fundraising campaign (that was not even geared toward the Festival but to “bricks and mortar”,) Redden believes that Spoleto can muster the funds to tackle these ambitious projects. He stated that a public-private partnership had been established to facilitate the process, since Memminger is currently owned by the Charleston County School Board.

Renovating our performing arts facilities strengthens the arts community and solidifies the ties we have to the Festival itself. Asked if he envisions the Festival to grow in the coming years, Redden stated that we are pretty much at capacity based on the facilities we have. Supporting the Festival, no matter how big or small, preserves this legacy for our children and ensures our heritage as an art community for years to come.

By Amy Riley, Keyway Editor

Young artists share their crafts with Rotarians

MAY 24, 2005 — The program was introduced by Ellen Dressler-Moryl . The topic addressed the importance of cultural arts programs in elementary school curriculums. Rotarians were treated to performances by young artists who had benefited from one such arts program called “Project Artistic.” This program was the result of a 3-year grant and the combined efforts of many individuals.

The Director of Project Artistic explained the critical role Cultural Arts programs play in a comprehensive elementary school program and the positive impact it can have on the children and the community. As a former school principal, the Director commented, “While others around me were working to increase grades, those of us involved in the cultural arts were involved in changing lives through these arts.” He also talked about the importance of teaching the arts to young children because it instills them with an appreciation. He believes this appreciation goes on towards guaranteeing a community’s commitment to preserving those arts.

The Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary School chorale first demonstrated their talent with a harmonious rendition of “America the Beautiful,” which followed the Pledge of Allegiance. Later in the program the chorale sang three songs. The first song was “This Pretty Planet” followed by a Baroque hymn and finally, a song in Hebrew. Next, Rotarians were treated to lively examples of African drumming. Fourth grade students from Memminger Elementary School along with their instructors enthusiastically beat out three West African rhythms and Rotary members were captivated. In fact, most members stayed long after the official meeting concluded in order to enjoy this treat.

— submitted by Helen R. Harloe

School Choice: Will it help or hurt our education system in South Carolina?

May 17, 2005 — Rotarians learned more about the ongoing debate of whether or not school choice is what South Carolina needs to improve our state’s education system. Sherry Street and Jon Butzon, two key players involved in this issue, discussed the SC Put Parents in Charge Act (PPIC), a bill that has gone through many forms and is now in front of the SC House Ways and Means Committee. The bill, if enacted, would allow tax credits or vouchers (based on eligibility) for qualified tuition payments to a public or independent school.

Sherry Street is a proponent for school choice, and shared examples of regions where school choice has been successful, namely Milwaukee, WI. Street claims that this is the best example of school choice at work, and the program has been in place for the past 15 years. The main point she conveyed was that school choice gives parents educational options, and gives power to those who have never had power before. She stated that African-Americans and the poor working class are usually the groups who benefit the most from school choice. She worked to dispel many myths that are a part of this debate, such as
concerns that PPIC will destroy public education, the best students will leave and leave the worst behind, and that schools will re-segregate.

Jon Butzon believes the main issue is maintaining status quo, and needing to make leaps in ways we can improve the educational system of our state. He admits the debate has become very political, and pointed out that for every example of a program that works, there is one that does not. He claims we should be looking for the public policy lesson in this issue: how are we going to make policy and are we spending enough on public education in SC? Issues include money, skill of teachers, leadership, choice, & privatization — we have lots more facts to weigh before an effective program can be crafted using either solution.

In other business. . .

Dyson Scott gave the invocation and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, and Peter Lucash welcomed visiting Rotarians and guests. Margaret MacDonald offered Health & Happiness, and President Mark thanked the Adopt-A-Highway volunteers. Ted Creech and Earl Walker were recognized for their Paul Harris Fellow contributions, and President Mark congratulated
the Board on its 100% Paul Harris Fellow representation. Amy Riley kicked off the 4-Way Test special series with “Is it the Truth?” and Larry Tarleton introduced our speakers, Sherry Street and Jon Butzon.