A Westchester County High School is honoring the former director of its theater program – who also directs the musicals at Dominican College – by naming its Performing Arts Center after him. The Lakeland Central School District Board of Education voted on January 21, 2016, to rename the Walter Panas High School Performing Arts Center after Dr. James A. Filippelli. Dr. Filipelli taught English for more than 35 years at the high school and retired last June. He continues working as an adjunct instructor at Dominican College, where he has also taught for 36 years. At Dominican College, Dr. Filipelli teaches classes in communications and theater.
The move to rename the center came after a former Walter Panas High School student started an online petition that garnered more than 900 signatures. Dr. Filippelli said he is humbled, flattered and honored. “I share this honor with the countless number of students, the administrators, the teachers, the community members, anyone who ever stepped foot in that place, or performed on the stage – backstage, lighting, scenery, costumes, anything. I share with them, because I couldn’t do it alone, “ he said.
Dr. Filippelli is now working with Dominican College students rehearsing for the March 11 and March 12 performances of Kiss Me Kate. Tickets will go on sale a few weeks before the performance.