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Unveiling a New Name for the Little Theater

Situated in the center of campus, the newly redesigned performing arts space was named in a dedication ceremony on May 19.

Convent & Stuart Hall has named its redesigned Little Theater after a family with lasting connections to the school.

The name was unveiled at a ceremony held during the Barat Dinner, an event that honors donors who give $25,000 or more annually as well as those who have surpassed $1 million in lifetime gifts to the school. The occasion also marked the annual Board of Trustees dinner.

To kick off the evening, 120 guests gathered in the reimagined performing arts space on the lower level of the Flood Mansion, walking between two grand columns into the spacious room that now serves as the hub of an enhanced performing arts program.

Pairing slides and a video presentation, President Ann Marie Krejcarek opened the dedication ceremony, welcoming everyone and introducing members of the Merlone family, whose multi-million dollar gift in honor of Valerie Hessen Merlone made the theater renovation possible. The dedication plaque, which was revealed in the slideshow, reads: Merlone Family Little Theater in Honor of Valerie Hessen Merlone

Named in honor of Peter Merlone’s late wife and Kristen Merlone’s CES’02 mother, Valerie, the theater holds special significance for their family. In his remarks, Peter said that when Valerie passed away in 2000, when Kristen was in sixth grade, the family held her memorial service in the Little Theater. Years later, Peter married Denise Merlone, whose two daughters, Alexandra Altholz ’10’06 and Addison Altholz CES’07, also attended Convent Elementary. Their wedding was held in the Flood Mansion. In addition to honoring Valerie’s memory, Peter said the gift was made in recognition of the school’s leadership throughout the pandemic and its commitment to serving students with in-person learning.

“As a school, we’re so honored to have the Merlone family make the decision to have a permanent presence at the school going forward,” says Chief Advancement Officer Sarah Leffert. “It shows a real belief and recognition of the hard work of the faculty and students.”

Fittingly, a musical program followed the dedication ceremony, with students in Grades 5–12 performing a range of instrumental and choral pieces under the direction of Performing Arts Department Chair Chauncey Aceret ’06.

Following the dedication, guests enjoyed dinner in the Main Hall where Dr. Krejcarek introduced Board Chair Holden Spaht, who has adeptly steered the Board through the many challenges presented by the pandemic. In his remarks, Holden thanked outgoing Board members, Martina Lauterbach and Mark Farrell, and reflected on Dr. Krejcarek’s steady leadership over the past two years, adding that the school is well-positioned for the future.

To learn about other naming opportunities on campus, please contact Sarah Leffert at or 415-345-5802.

Photo credit: Erin Kjar