LSMSA Foundation celebrates donors at annual event, presents awards


Nearly 60 donors, volunteers, and representatives from the faculty and administration of the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts attended the LSMSA Foundation’s sixth annual 1983 Society celebration Nov. 5 in New Orleans.

The Foundation’s 1983 Society helps the school foster a tradition of philanthropy by recognizing its most loyal and committed supporters. Annual contributions of $1,983 or more qualify an individual or organization for membership.

The event also featured the Foundation’s third annual presentation of the 1983 Society Wingspan Award for Dedication, an award created to recognize the dedication of individuals and organizations who demonstrate meaningful support for LSMSA through financial means, volunteer time, advocacy and other avenues of engagement considered above and beyond.

This year’s award recipients were Dr. Patrick and Betsy Widhalm and Drs. Art and Sharon Williams.

Widhalm worked 15 years as LSMSA’s longest-serving executive director. He began his LSMSA career in 1985, teaching major and minor study piano, giving recitals and accompanying students for the next eight years. Betsy created the class piano program (which included writing her own textbook), taught private lessons, performed and accompanied.

Sharon served as a member of the organizing team that recruited the first LSMSA class. She served in a variety of roles over the years, including coordinator of student activities, coordinator of alumni affairs and public relations, and director of outreach and admissions.

Dr. Art Williams began working at LSMSA in 1984 and served in many roles as well – chair of the humanities department, faculty representative to the Board of Directors, executive director and a senior lecturer in humanities.

As executive director, he led LSMSA through some of its darkest budget times in history and ensured that the 10th graduating class wouldn’t be the last graduating class. He began SLAMT, the sports weekend where LSMSA competes against its sister schools, and opened the new gym. He also served as faculty sponsor to the student newspaper, “The Renaissance.”

Both are still involved with LSMSA, even beyond retirement.