Schools chief can help you tie one on
URBANA — It's not exactly "Pride and Prejudice" — or any of the 100-plus other plays Greg Chew directed — but Urbana High's late longtime drama teacher would still get a kick out of tonight's production.
At 7 p.m. at the high school, Superintendent Don Owen will host "Skip the Clip" — a session on how to tie a bow tie, like one of the 15 he can often be seen sporting while walking the halls of district schools.
Just bring your own bow tie and a donation — for the Greg Chew Theatre Scholarship, the school's way of honoring the local arts icon.
"They can bring whatever they want, but the original thought was $50," Owen said.
Not long before Mr. Chew passed away in May after a battle with cancer, he talked to Owen about his desire to establish a scholarship for students seeking to continue their education in drama and theater.
"He told me the one thing he wanted to leave was a lasting scholarship to continue to promote drama and theater for our students," Owen said. "Specifically, he wanted to make sure there was a way for our high school students to have access to funds to further their education in drama and theater."
When Owen looked into it, he learned that $25,000 would be needed to fund an endowed scholarship in perpetuity. More than 100 people have already donated $8,920 toward the cause, he said, and that's before what Owen promises will be "a fun night."
"The pride of wearing a bow tie is tying it yourself," the superintendent said. "When people know this is a bow tie that the person wearing it has tied, I think it raises the bar from a fashion statement to a personal achievement."
Owen has recruited a couple Urbana High students and fellow bow-tie fans to lend a hand tonight. He'll provide a short, irreverent history of the bow tie — Albert Einstein was known to wear them; Winston Churchill did, too — and lead a lesson on how to tie your own.
He has become an authority on the topic since two Christmases ago, when his father-in-law left two under the tree — one for Owen, one for his son — along with a short story he wrote on how to put it on.
Owen became a collector — most of his are orange and black, Urbana Tiger colors — and even wears one as he pedals around town.
"A bow tie is a great way to be dressed up on my bike," he said.
To RSVP for tonight's event, email Owen at firstname.lastname@example.org before noon.
Those interested in contributing to the scholarship can write a check made out to "Urbana School District 116/Greg Chew Scholarship." Mail it to the Jean Burkholder Administrative Service Center, 205 N. Race St., Urbana, IL 61801.
There's no better cause, Owen says.
Mr. Chew "built the drama department into a powerhouse of talent," Owen said. "He left a huge impact on arts education in this community."