Rhodes pays tribute to 'Ricky' Feinstein
by Jen Cowart
Alan Shawn Feinstein took the time and shook hands and said hello to every student that greeted him in the auditorium that day.

June 9 was a special day at E.S. Rhodes Elementary School, as they dedicated their auditorium to the late Richard “Ricky” Feinstein, son of philanthropist Alan Shawn Feinstein.

The Feinstein children attended Rhodes School as elementary students themselves. Richard Feinstein died April 12, 2008, in Bangkok, Thailand.

The whole school gathered in the auditorium for the dedication, each class having made a special something for the Feinstein family. Principal Kenneth Blackman opened the ceremony with a few words to the Feinstein family and the student body, faculty and staff.

“I’ve known Alan Feinstein for 13 years. He has supported and helped the school in many ways,” Blackman said. “He’s paid for us to go on field trips to the Imax Theater. He’s paid for the busing to get there. He’s brought programs into our school, such as an animal trainer. He’s given us Feinstein sweatshirts. He’s given a lot of money during the 13 years and we’ve bought many valuable items. All of you have Alan Feinstein cards to go to many places. All he asks in return is for you boys and girls to do good deeds. Well, this time, Rhodes thought that we’d do something for Mr. Feinstein.”

Feinstein has lived in the Rhodes area for 35 years. Richard was a student at Rhodes – “one of our parents and even one of our teachers were in his class,” Blackman said.

Blackman then read aloud the resolution from the Cranston School Committee, declaring the auditorium be named in Richard’s honor.

The student representatives then took turns sharing with the Feinstein family all that they had created for the day’s events. In first grade, Mrs. Lepore’s class created an acrostic poem about Mr. Feinstein. Two students spoke to Alan Feinstein. Sean Gallagher thanked him for teaching him to do good deeds, telling Feinstein that he’d recently helped mow the lawn as a good deed.

Another class read a letter aloud and the sixth grade read a poem created by the morning kindergarten, which was not present for the afternoon ceremony. At the end of the presentation, the entire school presented a banner, signed by every student that read, “Thank you for everything you do.” The whole school then stood up and gave a great, big thank you out loud to the Feinstein family.

“It’s wonderful having so many boys and girls that I love,” Feinstein said. “I’ve watched you grow up and watched your big brothers and sisters grow up. You’ve done so many good things for people. I will always hold you in my heart and so will my family. When we are gone, you will carry on. You are part of our family and we’ll never forget you.”

Feinstein ended his speech and closed the ceremony with his family’s signature good-bye to the children, “See you later, alligator;” they all responded, “In a while, crocodile!”

After the ceremony, Feinstein’s daughter, Leila said it was good to be back at Rhodes.

“I went here, too,” she said. “It was good to see the kids. It was really moving to see everything they did. I have great memories from this school, and I know my brother did, too.”

A small reception in the school library was held following the ceremony; coffee, lemonade and snacks had been set up by the members of the PTO.

“This is a wonderful school, and I am just very proud of how they have honored us,” said Feinstein.

© 2009