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Veteran Truman Teacher Retiring

As part of his final year, Lou Volpe's students will be performing "Gruesome Playground Injuries" Thursday and Friday.

Harry S. Truman High School drama teacher Lou Volpe has seen a lot of changes since he started as an English teacher at the school when he was 21 in 1969; one thing he says that has not changed is the kids.

“Kids will be kids,” he said Tuesday. Around him students set up the auditorium for Thursday and Friday’s performances of "Gruesome Playground Injuries."

The performances are some of the last Volpe will be overseeing, as he is set to retire in June.

The 44-year educator, who grew up in Philadelphia, has made Truman’s theater program one of the most respected in the nation.

His career has been marked by a series of firsts.

In 2002, Volpe and his students were tasked with staging “Les Misérables.” It was the first time the play had ever been performed by high school students.

Volpe reflected on how his students were also the first in the nation to perform controversial rock musical “Rent.” He recalled how the positive response to the play was so overwhelming that additional shows had to be added.

The Yardley resident said he will be ending his career with performances of Godspell in the spring.

“[Godspell] really made people feel better. I wanted to end my career at the school with a show that makes people feel great,” he said.

The 64-year-old said that he made his intentions to retire known to the district late last school year. He said he is not leaving because he is tired of the job, but rather because he felt was time to do new things.

“I’ll miss my teaching job,” he said. “But for me, it’s time to move on and experience other things.”

Volpe said he has had offers to work for musical theater companies in New York. He is considering joining one of the companies as a consultant to high school theater programs.

In October, the school board approved a resolution that would name Truman’s auditorium after him.

“It’s a beautiful gesture. Now, even after I leave, people will remember me positively,” Volpe said.

He called the experience “humbling” and “stunning.”

If you go see “Gruesome Playground Injuries"

The performance will be staged at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday at the high school. Donations are requested for tickets.

“Gruesome Playground Injuries” tells the tale of a boy and girl from the time they are 8-year-old until they are 38. Volpe said the story mainly consists of two actors and limited stage changes.

The drama-comedy is being performed for the first time in front of a high school audience at the shows.

Tom Sofield November 15, 2012 at 03:39 PM
What are your memories of Mr. Volpe?
Bernadette Dascoio Zeender November 15, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Lou Volpe and I "fell in love" in my sophomore year at Woodrow Wilson in 1974. Not only did I have the privelege of being in his English classes, but I played starring roles in the first 3 musicals he ever produced: "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" in 1975, "Bye, Bye Birdie" in 1976, and "Godspell" in 1977. Mr. Volpe took a group of us to perform an excerpt of "Our Town" at The Bucks County Playhouse, where I earned an Excellence in Acting Award, of which I remain proud. I'm sure he remembers our lively conversation he shared with us while dining in New Hope, not to mention the antics he had to deal with from a choice few of us during those years! Lou's passion, clarity and focus is infectious. He is an amazing man with a beautiful soul. Working and learning with Lou Volpe have continued to be a highlight in my life, and I will never forget him, or the legacy he leaves behind. Go get 'em, Lou! ~Bernadette Dasconio Zeender
Andrea Lamberth November 16, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Hey Lou, You always had a gift for knowing how to get the most from your students. You are a gentleman and a scholar, and I salute your artistry and longevity . Xox. La
Laurie Venegas November 17, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Lou Volpe has been and will continue to be a "gift" to Bristol Township and everyone else lucky enough to know him! He helped my son, and countless others, realize a latent talent and love for theatre, while also learning to connect with themselves on a deeper level. He is an upbeat, seriously intelligent, incredibly creative, honestly funny and infinitely caring man! I am grateful to call him my friend and wish him the utmost happiness and success in his future endeavors! THANK YOU LOU!!!!!!!!!!!xo
Daniel Kubacki December 28, 2012 at 09:42 AM
Harry S. Truman High School of Levittown PA has one of the best Drama programs in the Nation. I did not go to Truman and don't know Mr. Volpe. But I have love the Truman Drama program since I saw my first Truman show "Jesus Christ Super Star" when I was a young boy. Have a fun retirment Mr. Volpe.
John February 01, 2013 at 03:56 AM
Lou was one of my all time favorite teachers, my one regret was that my son, who is involved in theater at Pennsbury didnt go to Truman! I would have loved for him to have Lou as his director. Thanks Mr. Volpe for all that you have done for Truman and your students!
liz fochtman February 01, 2013 at 11:19 AM
Lou You were my Mentor.You always took the time to make your students feel very Special.You were High School.I enjoyed going to school to see you.You always used to tease me I had a Crush on you.You were My Favorite teacher then you had my Daughter Jessica Potoczny.You will be missed.And IM glad they are Going to Rename the Theather after you.You Put Wilson and Truman on the Map.I wish you all the Best.New York would be Lucky to have you.AND YES AFTER ALL THESE YEARS I WILL ADMIT I HAD A CRUSH ON YOU.CONGRATS YOU DESERVE ALL OF THE BEST.LIZ POTOCZNY
Danielle Joy February 01, 2013 at 04:39 PM
What an awesome teacher. So excited to see what's next! Jesus Christ Superstar was the school lay when I was in 11th grade. It was fantastic. Then Hair. It's what our high school was renowned for. Volpe always pushed the envelope and came out perfectly ahead of his time. I'm sad that my kids won't get to be taught by him. I never got to have him because he was so taboo (in my house) Even though he wasn't my teacher, I knew he "saw" me. I hope he's replaced with an equal. He'll be hard to top.
Rebecca Treloar February 01, 2013 at 09:00 PM
Volpe, one man who inspired me to be so much more. I always looked forward to classes and even skipped lunch to sit in on other classes, I have the utmost respect for you and all that you do, you helped me break out of my shell. From singing in "Tommy", dancing in "Garden of Eden", & "A funny thing happened on the way to the forum"!!! Love those days!! I wish you the best in what ever you decide to do!! I KNOW you'll do amazing!! Love, Rebecca
Carol Robidoux February 09, 2013 at 05:04 PM
Wow, it's my two most influential high school teachers in one moment: Lou Volpe, who recognized my gift for stringing sentences together early on, and Andrea Lamberth, who forced me to excel at complex and sometimes obtuse assignments she pretty much pulled out of hats. As a team, what these educators gave me was a love for learning and writing, which has served me well. Although AL moved on to Council Rock HS, Lou remained, and taught me lessons about myself I continue to mull over (in a good way). I even did a stint with the drama program in 1976 and still feel a bit like a best supporting actress, deep down. Both Lou and Andrea have inspired countless students like me who have gone on to do incredible things, all of us better for having been at Harry S Truman. What Lou Volpe has done with his stellar career is underscore the value to a community when excellent teachers are hired - those who lead with their hearts, and give more than required.
Denise March 02, 2013 at 04:05 AM
Lou Volpe is an amazing person that inspired the lives of so many students. He gave us an opportunity to shine from within and even showed us how to laugh at ourselves. I owe some of my fondest high school memories to Mr.Volpe. I know I'm fortunate to have learned from him and to have been affected by his creative spirit. I hope he realizes how influential his work at Truman has been. What an example he has set for us! One important lesson I learned from Lou is that we can be given direction but it's up to us to follow our own path. " All the best performers bring to their role something more, something different than what the author put on paper. That's what makes theatre live. That's why it persists."~ Stephen Sondheim Lou, you are one of life's "best performers" and I know you will continue to touch lives with your unique visions wherever you go, as long as you live. Thanks for letting "the sunshine in." Denise Salomon

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