Canadian actor accepts an award and speaks to students about his profession.

By ALICIA BELANGER News correspondent

    DANVERS, Massachusetts -- About 60 high school students gathered in the school's television studio
yesterday morning to be entertained and educated by an up-and-coming Canadian actor.

    Michael Mahonen,who starred in the CBS mini-series " Conspiracy of Silence " and the television
program " Road to Avonlea ," accepted an award from the students, answered questions and gave an
inspiring  talk.

    Many of the students who attended are involved in television production at the school and some aspire to
become actors and actresses.

    Jim Lombard, the audiovisual teacher who contacted Mahonen for the visit, said he felt Mahonen was a
perfect guest for the students because of his dedication and years of hard work to become what he is today.

    "He is a relatively small actor making a big impact," Lombard said. "You don't have to be a Ben Affieck
(to be an actor).  This is what they love to do, so they do. It is not for the big bucks."

    Last year, the school put together a recognition night for student talent. The program was expanded this year
to recognize a professional  actor who is not a big name but still has an impact on the profession. Mahonen was
chosen as the recipient.

    All of the student awards will be presented on May 8. However, it just so happened that Mahonen was in town
this weekend hosting a benefit concert and he was happy to stop by the school to accept the award.

    Mahonen was flattered by the recognition. Although he has received other awards for his acting, including a
Gemini Award, he said this award was a significant one because it was given by students.

    The students prepared for Mahonen's visit by watching clips of his work last week. After Mahonen spoke, the
students were able to ask him questions about what it is like to be in the movies, on television and on the stage.

    After visiting the high school, Lombard and the students took Mahonen out to lunch at the Sylvan Street Grille.

 News staff photo/Barbara Kennedy Canadian actor Michael Mahonen speaks at Danvers High yesterday  (April 28, 2002) before accepting the Gold Talon Award from the students, Mahonen is the first recipient. (I'll scan the photo as soon as I can...Kitty)