Can you imagine living in New York City and never attending a Broadway play? I can't either, but that's because we don't live there. We wish we could go because we can’t go any time we want. Almost everyone lives within easy access of a thing or place that other people take vacations and travel long distances to see. And some of us never get around to visiting that place because, well, we take it for granted. For some Olympians, The Washington Center for the Performing Arts is such a place. This is a world-class theater where world-class actors and musicians don’t just come to fill out an open date on their current tour. They seek it out because they want to perform in this special venue. It’s fitting, of course, that our state’s capital city should have a first-class performing arts theater. And it’s been a blessing for the restaurants and shops in downtown Olympia, who benefit from the crowds of people enjoying a night out. This fall, the Washington Center will launch its 25th season with a series of grand events to celebrate a quarter-century of bringing top entertainment to Thurston County and of providing a stage for local performers, students and homespun budding musicians. Many Olympia singers, dancers and actors made their nervous debuts on The Washington Center’s main stage, or watched their children do so. And the memories of those priceless moments now fill countless scrapbooks all across our community. To help The Washington Center celebrate its 25th anniversary, The Olympian is planning a keepsake special booklet that will not only recount the historic struggle to build the center, but will also capture the personal reminiscences of those who have experienced its grandeur in some way. Did you perform on stage as a child? Make your singing and acting debut as an adult? Have you been attending shows for the past decade or two? Whatever your experience is with The Washington Center, we’d like to hear from you. Write to me and share your favorite memory from the center. We’ll include it in the special publication, and you’ll be forever linked to one of our city’s most prized treasures. Send along a picture, too, if you’d like, but make sure we receive your story by the end of June. Don’t forget to include your contact information. ET CETERA No community ever has enough civic leaders. In order to grow with vision, a community needs a steady stream of up-and-coming, informed young people eager to take the baton and carry it forward. On Wednesday, 21 future leaders will graduate from the 2010 Leadership Thurston County program. Over the last 10 months, they have progressed through a master’s course about our communities. They’ve met with decision-makers, learned about issues, built personal networks and honed their leadership skills to get things done. Stephanie Pelham, development manager for the South Puget Sound Community College Foundation, is one of the grads who will be recognized at this week’s Thurston Chamber luncheon. She said: “After living in Thurston County for six years and working in the nonprofit sector ... I felt as though I was already very connected with the community; however, after completing LTC, I feel that my understanding of the community is much deeper.” Tony Salas, manager of the Lacey branch of Anchor Bank, says, “LTC has given me a huge insight into how the various parts of the county work. How the complex entities of business, government and community can, and do, work together to enhance the people that work and live in Thurston County.” Patti Grant, the program coordinator of Leadership Thurston County, says applications for the 2011 class are being accepted right now. You can find one at www. leadthurstoncounty.com. George Le Masurier, publisher of The Olympian, can be reached at 360-357 0206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.