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Rachael Ray returns to roots, wows local crowd

When former Lake George business teacher Sue Strauss asked a question from the audience, Ray offered a wry compliment to Strauss and the other business instructors.

"Thank you, I've got a hell of a business going now," she said.

Later, Rachael Ray offered career advice for youth who were in awe of her success. The first credo, she said is to follow your dreams.

"Work harder than everyone else, and don't give your bosses an attitude," she said. "And don't think of saying 'That's not my job.'"

Queensbury Eighth-Grader Stephanie Gengel said Ray was an inspiration.

'Seeing her success has me looking forward to my future," she said. Stephanie brought her mother Marcia, and her grandmother Norma Cross, who traveled from Arizona to see the show.

Marisol Maldonado of Lake George snapped photographs before and after the presentation, while Ray signed books and greeted her fans one by one.

"I love her show, her cooking, her personality and spirit," Maldonado said.

Local people aid effort, Ray respects roots

The show was followed by a buffet meal donated by Ray and several local businesses, prepared on site under the direction of Steve Colletti of Minerva.

Debbie Alvarino of the Lake George Baking Co. donated 500 dinner rolls and eclairs for the event.

Dawn Hlavary Starratt, a high school classmate of Rachael Ray's, said she admired how Ray donated so much.

"She does such good things for the community," Starratt said.

School Superintendent Mary Cahill, who watched the presentation and welcomed Ray to the school, seconded the point, noting that Ray's benefit show annually raises thousands of dollars for scholarships and school technology equipment. This past year, show proceeds bought iPod Touch handheld devices with educational applications. In prior years, proceeds bought computerized blackboards.

"She's a really special person to come back to her roots like this," Cahill said. "It's amazing she maintains this type of connection and does it with heart."

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