By Peter Katsionis
Photos: Peter Katsionis
On Tuesday night, the East End Boys Club, founded by James Crescenzo, in collaboration with the Templeton Secondary School film and theatre departments, run by Tanya Zambrano and Corin Browne, put on a play and showed several student-made videos. It was also a night for the East End Boys Club to show their appreciation to the donors, mentors and volunteers who go out of their way to support the boys and girls in the program.
From business tycoons, to community and school leaders as well as parents, teachers and students, all came together to marvel at the talent and hard work put forth by dozens of Templeton’s actors, stage crews, videographers, writers and producers. Everything was put together by teenagers with the adults only acting in supervisory roles.
We were greeted at the doors by charming, impeccably dressed hosts and hostesses then quickly ushered into the main lobby of the school, where a buffet of Italian delicacies, pastries and cakes were generously provided by the hard-working and lovely ladies of Lega Feminile Confratellanza. These wonderful women, all volunteers, cater our VIP nights as well as providing several dinners throughout the year for our boys, girls and mentors. Grazie mille!
After being fed we were entertained by the sweet song stylings of Stephen Scaccia, and then the “VIPs” were escorted to the auditorium to watch a series of videos. From murder to teenage angst, and quite a few things in between, these videos were of outstanding quality and very entertaining. Again, all written, acted, directed and produced by students. Many thanks were extended to the Vancouver film communities, Vancouver Film Studios, the MPPIA who generously donated high-tech equipment, including professional cameras. The quality of the films was indistinguishable from something you would see in a theater. Once done, the audience moved to the studio to watch a play.
Weird, wonderful, sad, joyous and interspersed with real teenage viewpoints with references to old movies, science fiction and old-fashioned song and dance, this production entertained for the whole time. It wrapped up with a few speeches and thank you’s to the donors, too many to list, but included the original backers of the program, Italo-Canadians Frank Guistra, Francesco Aquilini, Paolo Aquilini, Jim Bosa, Ryan Bosa, Jason Bosa and also many Italo-Canadian mentors and supporters. Thanks also went to Judy Hager, John Mackay, Chris Mackay, Brian Paes, Brian Braga, Tim Young, Tommy Humphries and Kyle Washington. All of the above are generous backers and all have their own charitable foundations.
Peter Katsionis is a born Vancouverite, now living in Burnaby and enjoying a life that combines the pleasures of retirement with serving the community and working at the University of British Columbia. A teacher for the VSB for 36 years, Peter had a career where he ushered in many “firsts”. Often called a pioneer for his innovations, Peter had one common mission: making education successful for all, from the most challenged to the most gifted students. For his efforts, he has been awarded Canada’s top teaching prizes, including being a finalist for the Governor General’s Award and winning both the Government of Canada History Award, and the most prestigious, the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence. In “retiremement” Peter took an adjunct professor’s position at UBC where he mentors future teachers as their faculty advisor. Working with several schools in Vancouver,
Peter finds himself directly involved in several communities, which has enhanced his appreciation for the diversity in this city. It is this concern that has led him to work with the East End Boys Club, founded and directed by his friend of forty years, A. J. (Jimmy) Crescenzo. This wonderful charity helps young boys and girls with the challenges of school, family life, work and life in general. Jimmy has assembled a large group of people, many of them Italo-Canadians, who through generous donations of money, time and support are making a huge difference for so many students at Templeton and other schools in Vancouver. As a “senior”, Peter works hard behind the scenes, the “consigliere” to the godfather of good works, Jimmy.
On a personal note, Peter (a proud first generation, Greek) has been married to Maria, a school principal and an Italo-Canadian, for 38 years. They have two sons, Matthew (Cristina), David and the new shining light of his life, his first grandchild, Alessia. He considers himself a community person, trying his best to support local business, local issues and local concerns.
Rome as his favorite city, he can state unequivocally, una fazza, una razza.