» Subscribe Today!
The Power of Information
Home
The Ledger - EST. 1978 - Nashville Edition
X
Skip Navigation LinksHome > Article
VOL. 38 | NO. 38 | Friday, September 19, 2014

Child’s legacy lives on with $2M in scholarships

Print | Front Page | Email this story

THEA crops up in crosswords occasionally. In an easy puzzle, it’ll be clued as “Ellington’s ‘Take ___ Train’.” Or “Mr. T’s ‘___ Team’.”

In more challenging grids, THEA’s clues include “Actress Gill,” “German author von Harbou,” or “Mother of Eos.”

Snobby solvers don’t like any of these clues; thus, they don’t like THEA.

That’s about to change.

Henceforth, a new clue for THEA will be available. I predict a change of attitude toward the answer.

Thea Kay Leopoulos was born Dec. 6, 1983, to Linda and Paul Leopoulos. I met Paul in July 1992 at the Democratic National Convention in New York City. Paul was a childhood friend of Bill Clinton, who had an interest in attending that same convention.

I would meet Thea a few weeks later, in Washington, on Jan. 20. She was a sweet and beautiful child.

Sadness and grief came to the Leopoulos family nine years later. At the age of 17, Thea died in a car crash. I could not then, and cannot now, imagine the pain of such a loss.

In Thea’s time on Earth, success in several disciplines sprang forth once she immersed herself in the arts. Recognizing this, months after losing their daughter, Paul and Linda established the Thea Foundation – a nonprofit dedicated to making sure outstanding artistic creativity in high school students is recognized and rewarded, without regard to grade point averages or standardized test scores.

Shelling out some $80,000 per year in scholarships to Arkansas high school seniors, the Thea Foundation stages competitions in performing arts, visual arts, film, creative writing, fashion design and slam poetry.

The winners don’t have to major in art to retain their scholarships.

Since its establishment, the program has entered into partnerships with dozens of colleges that furnish additional funds to Thea scholarship recipients. Since 2002, over $2 million has been awarded to college-bound Arkansas students, over 200 of them.

In addition to awarding scholarships, the Thea Foundation is engaged in numerous other related philanthropic, educational and outreach activities. It also raises money to give to school art departments and installs art exhibits in schools.

It sponsors arts-related workshops and festivals and exhibits. And more.

Right now, though, the Thea team, led by Paul, is raising funds to endow this outstanding program.

Check out the website, www.theafoundation.org. Select “Blog.” There you can find “A Film for the Thea Foundation.” Running a full two minutes and 46 seconds, this delightful piece by Samuel Pettit tells pretty much all you need to know about its subject.

The Thea Foundation is changing lives by helping children find passion in the arts. The Thea Foundation is headquartered at 401 Main Street in the Argenta District of North Little Rock, Arkansas 72114.

So, if you’re a crossword aficionado, next time you see THEA in a puzzle clued to Mr. T, Duke Ellington, or some obscure goddess or author, think of Thea Leopoulos. And then write the crossword author and editor a note, suggesting a fresher clue.

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter & RSS:
Sign-Up For Our FREE email edition
Get the news first with our free weekly email
Name
Email  
TNLedger.com Knoxville Editon
RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 0
MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0