The Ted Walch Endowed Chair for Performing Arts and Cinema Studies has accumulated more than $50,000 in donations since the initial $1.5 million was announced at a June 2 show where performing arts and cinema studies teacher Ted Walch was surprised by alumni who sang and danced for him.
Walch arrived at school that evening thinking he was meeting people for dinner, only to discover nearly 100 of his former students performing numbers from musicals he directed over the last 20 years.
“I briefly thought that I had died and it was my funeral … I had no idea what was going on,” Walch said. “There was this corridor of former students applauding … And then I look down the aisle and there are my brothers who had flown in from Ohio and Missouri by surprise. And that is when I truly thought that maybe I died or this was some weird version of heaven where I returned to Rugby.”
Fundraising for the endowed chair started six years ago and was headed by producer Marc Platt (Samantha ’01, Jonah ’04, Hannah ’08, Ben ’11, Henry ’17) and aided by Upper School Dean Sharon Cuseo, Walch said.
“I was lucky enough to get to participate in the secret fundraising process over the course of the past few years,” Cuseo said. “I had fun helping Marc Platt and others put the big Ted Walch extravaganza together. It was great seeing all of the former students and families who showed up to honor him and getting to recruit current students to perform or help out.”
There are four endowed chairs at the school, but this is the first bearing the name of a faculty member.
“I was greatly honored, and I was humbled,” Walch said. “I couldn’t wait to say thank you to the group and to acknowledge that the only reason this happened is I teach in such a great place with such great colleagues.”
“It could have happened to any teacher here,” Walch said. “I was just lucky it happened to me.”
Walch said he initially had mixed feelings regarding the event.
“I was slightly annoyed because I don’t like being surprised,” Walch said. “I’m a director. Directors like being in control. But after all was said and done, it was marvelous. I have to be honest. It was just marvelous.”