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DRACUT -- For 31 spring breaks in a row, DATV Director Gary Meuse has stayed home to orchestrate the most unique, volunteer-driven, local TV broadcast fundraising event in the United States, rather than travel to some exotic location.

At this year's Dracut Scholarship Foundation Dollars for Scholars 31st Telethon, however, the tropical heat has come to Meuse and the other telethon participants.

By 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the temperature on the telethon's main set, in a cozy studio on the second floor of the still-under-construction high school, had climbed into the mid-80s.

Superintendent of Schools Steven Stone and Dracut Scholarship  Foundation President Donna Yackel react as a DATV crew member advises Stone on how best to
Superintendent of Schools Steven Stone and Dracut Scholarship Foundation President Donna Yackel react as a DATV crew member advises Stone on how best to minimize the glare of his head in front of the TV-camera lights minutes before the three-night telethon began to air Wednesday. Sun/John Collins

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Moments before the three-night broadcast got under way, Superintendent of Schools Steven Stone and DSF President Donna Yackel shared a laugh with a DATV stage manager who advised Stone how best to hold his shiny pate so as to avoid reflecting the glare of the TV lights back at the cameras.

Following the opening jingle, Yackel greeted the telethon's viewers by asking Meuse to reveal on the digital tote board the pre-telethon fundraising total of $33,100. It was an excellent head start toward the telethon's fundraising goal of $100,000, Yackel said.

Inside the telethon's TV control room, Meuse expressed hope that the new building's heating and ventilation system will hold up for the duration of the telethon, including about of 10 hours of entertainment programming and auctions through Friday night.


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New for the telethon's production team this year, due to the old Dracut High School auditorium being razed to make way for the new building, eight larger group acts had to be pre-recorded at Lakeview Junior High for later broadcast during the telethon.

Meuse said none of the entertainment value is lost in knowing that not all acts are being performed live, and could actually give viewers added incentive to tune in to watch their group performances.

The telethon may be viewed by residents on cable TV channels 8 and 22, or anywhere in the world live-streaming at www.dracutscholarship.org.

Follow John Collins on Twitter and Tout at johncolowellsun.