Hills Are Alive'

WESTPORT - An event to benefit area youth organizations will return here this weekend, bringing demonstrations of some of the Champlain Valley's most impressive young talent.

The second annual Hills Are Alive celebration of young people in the Champlain Valley will take place on Sunday, June 13, from 2-4 p.m. in Westport. This year's event will both feature and benefit the Crown Point String Ensemble; The Depot Theatre's apprentice program, Shakespeare-in-the-Park; and the Champlain Valley Fencing Club.

"With drastic cuts in funding for the arts and for schools, and the strain of the economic crisis felt by so many families, this is such an important time to step up to the plate and support our young people and the programs that help them to flourish," said Martha Swan, who is hosting the event with her husband, Vitolds Arste. "Few of us may be able to write big checks, but together, we really can make a difference."

The funds raised in 2009 made it possible for the Crown Point String Ensemble to purchase a second full-size cello for the group's cellist to keep at home for practice instead of transporting back and forth on the bus.

"Hills helped save our program last year," said Lindsay Pontius, director of Shakespeare-in-the-Park. "We had some strong support from the local community, but our participation in the Hills program really got us going."

Joining the Shakespearean actors and Crown Point musicians at Hills this year, teens involved in the Champlain Valley Fencing Club will give foil and epee demonstrations. Their share of the funds raised this year will go towards the purchase of electronic scoring boxes for foil fencing.

"The Hills Are Alive is for the kids, said Paul Rossi, coach of the Champlain Valley Fencing Club, "and what we try to do with the Fencing Club is help kids develop and advance in a sport they love. In the four short years since we started, our fencers have won numerous medals and established a strong presence on the regional and national fencing stage."

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