School dedicates stage to Jim Melia


Ashley Sanchez

Former Assistant Principal Jim Melia enjoys a drama presentation at Barnes and Noble in December 2012.

After every performance during Troupe 6034’s recent production of “Once Upon A Mattress,” troupe president Evelio Sotolongo read a resolution announcing the stage in the Rita Galbraith auditorium would be dedicated to James Melia, the assistant principal who died of a heart attack in August 2013.

“The stage was chosen after a committee composed of faculty members was assembled,” Sotolongo, a senior, said. “Maureen Fallon, sponsor and director of West Shore’s troupe 6034, suggested that the stage be dedicated in his honor. [The dedication] was given at the end [of the show] so that the audience would be able to enjoy a stand-alone piece of theater in addition to hearing the dedication. We felt that, at the end of the show, the audience would be at their most energetic and most able to appreciate and ruminate on Mr. Melia’s contribution to the arts.”

According to Sotolongo, Melia was an avid fan of the arts.

“Throughout his time at West Shore,  James Melia attended every theatrical production he could,” Sotolongo said. “He was always extremely supportive of the drama program and more importantly the students involved. He had a passion for the arts that lives on every time students step foot on stage.”

Junior Gabrielle McKessey expressed fond recollections of Melia.

“My best memory of Mr. Melia was when he helped us solve the debate of whether Arthur (from the cartoon show on PBS) was an aardvark or a bear during lunch in eighth-grade,” she said. ” he also used to come to the shows and tell us now great we did and always showed how he actually cared about the arts department and tried to get to know us. I feel like what we did was a way of not only remembering him but just commemorating his legacy and all of the wonderful things he did not only for theater, but for the whole school.”

McKessey said that despite Melia’s intimidating appearance, he was a caring person.

“He was huge and scary at first sight,” she said. “But he was actually a giant teddy bear that really cared and really wanted us students to succeed and reach our full potential. He was an amazing man, and it hurts me that he was taken away from us so suddenly.”

The stage seemed proper for remembering Melia.

“I think dedicating the stage is an excellent way of honoring Melia’s legacy,” Sotolongo said. “He loved the performing arts, and the stage is representative of all that he loves about theater.”

By Jonah Hinebaugh