In a year that was already like no other in recent history, the local actors donned face masks for the video production, apropos of the history being made in light of the global pandemic. Traditionally, Keene Comes Alive! is held in person with third grade students from Franklin, Fuller, Symonds, and Wheelock Elementary Schools in attendance. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the local actors videotaped their presentations with the final product being shown to the District’s third grade classrooms during the week of June 7, 2021.
The Keene Lions Club began filming their content in the spring with the assistance of students in Matt Ohlson’s television production class at the Cheshire Career Center (Keene High School). Symonds Elementary School music teacher, Peter Siegel, wrote a song entitled “We Are Keene” which is featured in the video as performed by Symonds Elementary School students.
The cast of characters included the following local community members portraying historical figures from the City of Keene’s rich past: Peter Heed (Nathan Blake); PJ Cooke (Catherine Fiske); Bob Lyle (Josiah Colony); David Gaino (Francis Faulkner); Maria Muskus (Caroline Ingersoll); Kevin Royce (George Wheelock); Bill Medvidofsky (Barry Faulkner); Traci Booth (Jennie Powers); Jeff Minahan (Clarence DeMar); Jacob Carroll (Jonathan Daniels); Tom Sullivan (Town Crier); and George Hansel (Mayor)
Students from Franklin, Fuller, Symonds and Wheelock performed in supporting roles as proclamation students. Longtime Symonds Elementary School Principal, Richard Cate, noted that Keene Comes Alive! “makes history real, interesting and relevant for students.”
“I am grateful to the Keene Lions Club and all involved in the production for their efforts to ensure that even while in the midst of a pandemic, we are able to bring a level of normalcy to our students while educating them about the history of Keene and those historical figures whose impact has been felt for generations,” said Superintendent Robert H. Malay. “The partnership between the Keene School District and the Keene Lions Club enables us to fulfill our mutual goal of teaching our students about the importance of community and a sense of place.”
The video will be made available to the public via sau29.org as well as on the KSD and SAU 29 Facebook pages on Monday, June 14, 2021.