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February 12, 2004

Shedding light on School for the Deaf

From: Beverly Citizen, MA - Feb 12, 2004

By Melissa J. Varnavas /

The classrooms at the Beverly School for the Deaf are brighter these days, thanks to a donation from Osram/Sylvania.

The company recently provided $10,000 in new lighting to the school. It's a gift that not only brightens the classrooms but will lighten the school's electric bills as well. Pamela McGrath, the school's interim director, says the new lighting will save the school hundreds of dollars over time.

Company and school officials, along with Mayor William Scanlon, recently visited the school to meet with the students.

"I know miracles are being done here (at the school) everyday," said Leonard Femino, Esq., president of the Beverly School for the Deaf board of trustees. "To have this benefit, to bring light into these classrooms which will help our children learn is a wonderful thing."

The school had solicited Sylvania a little more than a year ago for financial help with construction of its "Touch the Sky" handicapped accessible playground. Although the company did not participate in that effort, "it led to a much better gift," McGrath said.

The donation of lighting seemed like a natural for the company.

"You start looking at the world a little differently after working here," Osram/Sylvania Community Relations Director Susan Reminger said. "You tend to walk around always looking at the ceiling."

Reminger visited Beverly School for the Deaf after McGrath's initial call for assistance. In classrooms where kindergarten basics were being taught, she said the lighting was bad enough to make even color indistinguishable.

"We saw a need here that we could help with," Reminger said.

So, Osram/Sylvania replaced the old 1960s-era lamps with the newest technology and replaced the old, yellow, lamp lenses with ones that radiate a better light.

"The colors are truer and we should be able to save roughly 20 watts of power per bulb," said Anthony Duarte, branch manager for Sylvania Lighting and head of the Beverly School for the Deaf project.

"For a nonprofit like us to receive a gift of this kind in these challenging economic times is exceptional," McGrath said.

For their own part, students at the school sent dozens of thank-you notes to the president of Osram/Sylvania. The new lights, they told him, "glow like moonlight."

Company President and CEO Charles Jerabeck was so impressed, he decided a visit was in order.

The children, gathered in a semi-circle around their guests, lobbed questions in both spoken word and sign language.

"How did you make these lights," asked one girl.

"How tall was the ladder you needed to replace all these lights," asked a boy.

"It really makes you aware of how lucky you are to see these kids so appreciative of something most of us take for granted," Scanlon said.

"This is a true gift," McGrath said.

A student named Matt tugged on the tail of Jerabek's suit jacket.

"I want to be a businessman when I grow up," he said.

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