Bethel Youth Arts Center “In Limbo” While They Secure New Location ~ By Wendy Mitchell
The new Bethel youth arts center, Studio 10 Center for the Arts, is currently “in limbo” as they look for a new location. The Danbury News-Times had reported last month that Studio 10 would open at 10 Nashville Road on August 1st, however the landlord of the building changed his mind and canceled the deal by text message 2 days before they were supposed to move in, forcing Studio 10 to cancel August classes and workshops.
Owned and operated by Wendy Mitchell, also Bethel Buzz editor and author of this article, Studio 10 is a place for local youth to express themselves creatively through art, music, theater and movement classes. With a wide variety of classes and events to choose from, the mission and purpose of the center is to build a child’s self-esteem and encourage their individuality while offering a safe haven to enjoy.
This fall Studio 10 will offer a free community theater session for teenagers to educate on the dangers of drug an alcohol prevention. This program is made possible by the generous donations of Bethel residents Gloria Hutchinson and Kevin Cleary, as well as several downtown Bethel merchants. Through their donations we were able to purchase a MacBook, a P.A. (sound) system and electronic equipment to take the traveling show to local youth centers. This will be an ongoing year-round class that will be offered. The ultimate goal is to become a non-profit 501(c)3 once the Board of Directors and paperwork is finalized. In the meantime, the sessions will be free of charge to local youth and the director of the studio, Wendy Mitchell, will donate her time, her studio space and resources to continue this program to benefit local youth, which was the original mission.
The interactive theater program includes video, a live youth band, live teen drama and dance, and was previously presented to inner-city youth at churches in Waterbury, Bridgeport and Norwalk in 2007-2009. Teens who experienced the fast-paced, media-driven drama cried, hugged and committed to changing their lives after seeing the all-too-realistic live show. The production was a collaboration between myself and the teens I mentored over the past 10 years through my church youth group. My goal is to present the drama to local teen centers and high schools in order to encourage teens to make better choices and not make the same bad decisions that me and my friends made as teens.
The free community theater program will be offered this fall as soon as Studio 10 has a permanent home. Since losing the original space, Studio 10 has looked at dozens of possible locations in Bethel, but nothing definite as of this posting due to lack of parking in downtown Bethel or other zoning issues. An announcement regarding the new location will be made within the next few weeks, and plans are to open before the fall session of classes begins on September 17th.
Currently registrations are still being taken for a week-long theater camp for kindergarten through 6th graders from August 20-24, 9:00a.m.-12:00p.m. Students will present a condensed version of “Snow White.” Camp will be held at Studio 10′s temporary location at The Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Center, 6 Lake Ave., Danbury, who has generously offered space due to the unfortunate situation. The final production of “Snow White” will be presented to seniors at a local nursing home.
In addition to art, music and theater classes, Studio 10 will also offer monthly puppet shows, teen nights, black light parties, karaoke and also provide a space for families to have their child’s birthday parties. Four, 6, 8 & 10-week class sessions, as well as drop-in classes, will be offered as well as special events with local entertainers Danny Diamond, Zooky the Clown and singing and signing with Ms. Janine.
For more information about Studio 10 Center for the Arts theater camps, classes and events, please email email@example.com, call 203-826-7194 or visit the website at www.studio10bethel.com.
Det. Corporal Ralph DeLuca Retires From Bethel P.D.
After over 3 decades of service to the Bethel community and our children, Det. Ralph DeLuca is hanging up his hat, so to speak. This Friday, Sept. 23 will be DeLuca’s last day on the job in Bethel after 31 years of service.
DeLuca was sworn into office at the Bethel Police Department on March 3, 1980. Originally from Bridgeport, DeLuca moved to Newtown at the age of 11 and to Bethel in when he was 16. He said his love of “all things having to do with the military and uniforms” began as a young child.
“Growing up as a kid in the 60′s I saw a lot on the news about hippies, Woodstock, Vietnam war protests and the proliferation of drugs. I thought ‘someone has to do something to make things better.,” DeLuca said.
He has spent the last 3 decades as a youth officer and D.A.R.E. instructor attempting to do just that. At the age of 14, DeLuca joined the Newtown Police Explorer Post and from there “never looked back.”
In college int he late 70′s DeLuca attended college at Moravian in Bethlehem, PA and worked part-time as an officer for the Town of Sherman. Beginning his position for the Bethel Police Department as a patrol officer, DeLuca was approached by then Chief John Basile for D.A.R.E. training.
“I was a little unsure at first if I wanted to do it but I figured I would try it and it turned out to be the one thing that has defined my career for the last 26 years as a youth officer,” he said, smiling.
The Police Commission and Chef Jeffrey Finch and the police Commission decided to cut the program last year, even after an 11-year-old girl, Lauren Messert collected over 600 signatures to save the program.
While the cut was heartbreaking for DeLuca to see, he said on Tuesday: “It’s time for me to start a new chapter in my life and I think this chapter is going to be a good one.”
DeLuca has helped countless school children over the last 3 decades to learn about making the right choices and to stay away from drugs and alcohol. Some of them, now adults, have come to visit him, bringing along their own children. Some have followed in his footsteps, choosing to pursue law enforcement as a career themselves.
“The thing with prevention is that many times you don’t know what you’ve prevented. Sometimes you get so close with the families you end up adopting them. Other times, despite your best efforts, things don’t work out,” he said.
DeLuca was eligible to retire 6 years ago but said he could not walk away from the D.A.R.E. program. After it was cut, he said, he had to rethink his retirement plans. After taking one week off to get things in order, it’s back to work for Det. DeLuca at his new position as School Safety Officer for Trumbull High School. He said he looks forward to the change and starting a new chapter in his life.