With the permission of his wife, Colleen, Paula Bragg submitted a request to rename the Milford High School auditorium The Dr. Gerald W. Thompson Center for Performing Arts. Dr. Thompson, who passed away in September 2021, served as band director and music teacher in the district.
“Just honestly, I expected there to be public comment on this tonight, based on feedback that I had heard,” Board Member David Vezmar said. “I’m very disappointed that didn’t happen. I fully support this. T, Mr. T, Dr. T, Thompson, whatever it is you want to call him, I had him for four years as a band director and played in the pit band for musicals, so I am very aware of the different music classes and the impact that I think he had on the music program and the drama program, the musicals and stuff here. I think those will probably remain with this district for a long time because of what he put into place. I think he has earned the honor of having his name put on this auditorium.”
Vice-President Rony Baltazar-Lopez asked if the district had received written comment and Dr. Kevin Dickerson, Superintendent, stated that there had been letters written on Dr. Thompson’s behalf and a petition was submitted with over 1,000 signatures.
“So, I didn’t have Dr. Thompson as a teacher, but I did have him as a substitute numerous times during band class,” Baltazar-Lopez said. “I think it was said before that he was a very inclusive teacher, very motivating person. And I think I can speak to that. Every time I went into band class, knowing that he was a substitute, he made the class very enjoyable. I think a lot of students had a personal connection to him. I personally don’t have a concern if we were to rename the auditorium.”
Dr. Dickerson explained that the board was not locked into the exact phrasing submitted by the request and that the request actually stated those in favor were open to other naming options.
“I was also fortunate enough to go to school while Dr. Thompson was here and, although I wasn’t a band student, I did perform in drama,” School Board President Jason Miller said. “And I can tell you the level of passion that Dr. Thompson brought to the school musicals and any activity that was going on as well as for marching band, you definitely knew you were in school with Mr. T or Dr. T.”
Because the request was not an action item and because several board members wanted to hear public comment on the matter, they voted unanimously to place it as an agenda item on the June board meeting which will be held June 13, 2022. The meeting is accessible in person or virtually and those attending virtually may participate in public comment.
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