Archive: Apr 2012

  1. Stars are born in Monterey County Summer Camps

    Jessica Lyons Hardcastle

    Thursday, April 19, 2012

    Monterey County Weekly

    Kayti Ramirez, an 18-year-old
    freshman at Santa Clara University, started attending Ariel Theatrical’s camps
    the summer after her sophomore year at Santa Catalina High School. She was cast
    as the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio and then went on to become a camp counselor
    to the younger kids.

    “At the beginning of each day we’d
    get together and Miss Gail would say, ‘Remember, whether you’re cleaning
    toilets or wiping a 4-year-old’s nose or helping on stage, it’s about something
    much bigger. It’s about character and building community, having
    self-discipline and integrity.’ That translated to my life, schoolwork,
    relationships with my friends and family.”

    Miss Gail is Gail Higginbotham,
    Ariel’s founder and artistic director who started the nonprofit more than 25
    years ago when she moved her young family to Salinas. “What really lurks in the
    bottom of most children’s hearts is the desire to stand on a stage with a
    costume and lights on them and have people clap for them,” she says.

    Ariel offers three, one-week summer
    theater camps where kids and teens take classes every day, separated into age
    and skill groups, focusing on singing, acting, movement and other performance
    skills. Each camper signs a code of conduct, in which she pledges to be
    courteous and respectful, own her mistakes and not make excuses. Toward the end
    of the week they start putting together a recital, which they perform for
    family and friends.

    “The theater part of Ariel is the
    modality by which we have them here, but the reason for Ariel is to help give
    them their best shot at creating a principled and productive life, the skills
    they need to make choices that are positive [in order] to succeed,”
    Higginbotham says.



  2. ARIEL’S Diane Chatwin honored for decades of Adopt-A-Highway work in Salinas

    Salinas Californian 4-20-12

    If you drive along Highway 68 on a regular
    basis, you’ve probably noticed there’s seldom, if ever, a roadside trash
    problem. That’s because a dedicated group of individuals has volunteered to
    keep the well-traveled corridor clean.

    Decked out in their protective helmets and
    yellow vests, these people regularly scour their assigned stretch of the
    roadway, filling bright orange plastic bags with roadside rubbish.

    Diane Chatwin is one of these unsung heroes. Along with friends and family,
    Chatwin has been cleaning a two-mile stretch of Highway 68 from the Toro Creek
    Bridge east to the Toro Regional Park turnoff. As part of the Adopt-A-Highway
    Program, Chatwin and her late husband, Marshall, volunteered to collect trash
    18 years ago on behalf of ARIEL Theatrical.

    For her unrelenting efforts over nearly two decades, Chatwin, who lives in the Robley
    Road area, recently was honored as the Adopt-A-Highway Volunteer of the Decade.

    When she heard that she was receiving the award, Chatwin said she wondered,
    “Why me? There are so many people who have been doing this a long time.”

    A choreographer with ARIEL Theatrical since the children’s theater was
    launched, Chatwin decided to volunteer for Adopt-A-Highway in the group’s name.
    “I felt it would be good publicity for the group, since a lot of the children
    in the program lived along Highway 68,” she explained. A sign along the highway
    names ARIEL Theatrical as the clean-up agent for Chatwin’s stretch.

    When she started, Chatwin did one side of the road and her husband did the
    other. They both enjoyed the drivers who often would show their appreciation by
    either honking or waving as they drove past.

    “It also was nice when bike riders and joggers passing by would acknowledge
    what we were doing with a thank you,” she said.

    After her husband’s death three years ago, Chatwin’s adult son, Michael, and
    some friends, Lee and Alison Hinkle, stepped up to assist her in the monthly
    cleanup. Even after a bout with cancer sidelined her for three months last
    year, the 78-year-old woman still refuses to give up her Saturday morning
    trash-collecting chores.

    Over the years she’s collected litter along the roadside, Chatwin and her
    helpers have found some interesting things. By far the most bizarre discovery
    was a large plastic bag containing a cow’s head and hooves. Marshall discovered
    the macabre remains and Chatwin thought this might be tied into some cattle

    Another time the couple found a bag with old credit-card receipts. “We knew the
    person whose name was on the receipts so we contacted her,” Chatwin said. “She
    told us her son was taking a load to the dump and didn’t realize the bag had
    fallen off his truck.”

    In 18 years one would think that Chatwin would have found some money along the
    roadside. With a laugh, she said that years ago one of her helpers found a $20
    bill and once she did stumble upon a pile of pennies, but that was it.

    By far the funniest thing that ever happened while on trash duty involved
    Chatwin’s husband.

    “A lady came up to him and asked what his offense was,” she said, explaining
    the event. “Marshall told her he wasn’t part of a prison detail but the woman’s
    response was, ‘Oh, that’s OK, you don’t have to be embarrassed or ashamed.’ ”

    Over the years she has been an Adopt-A-Highway volunteer, Chatwin has noticed
    that the amount of roadside refuse has diminished. Where she usually collected
    six to eight bags of junk on her side, today she averages about three to four.

    Although she does a formal cleanup usually about every four weeks, Chatwin said
    she can’t stand to see a lot of junk along the roadway. Because she travels the
    road so often, she’ll pull over and collect a tire, piece of wood or box that’s
    fallen off a vehicle and toss it in her trunk.

    With a smile, Chatwin also noted that, thanks to her Highway 68 duty, she can’t
    go anywhere now without picking up trash. “I think it is a disease,” she said
    with a laugh. “I can’t stand to see trash anywhere now, so I’m always reaching
    down to pick it up and dispose of it.”

    Jeanette Green, the Adopt-A-Highway Coordinator for the North Region, said that

    Volunteer of the Decade award was started last year and given to a Santa Cruz
    County resident.

    “We will only give this special award when we feel there is someone who really
    deserves it,” she said. “Diane is certainly one of those individuals. She does
    everything right!”

    Green noted there are numerous highway sections available on Highway 101 from
    Salinas to King City if anyone is interested in volunteering for the
    Adopt-A-Highway program.