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Billy Joel to be panelist at LI arts-education forum 

Billy Joel performs at Madison Square Garden on

Billy Joel performs at Madison Square Garden on Aug. 28. Credit: Getty Images / Taylor Hill

In his continuing support of arts education, music icon Billy Joel will be a panelist before an audience of local educators Tuesday at the Long Island High School for the Arts in Syosset.

The private event, "An Afternoon with Billy Joel and Guests," will feature the Hicksville-raised Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Long Island Music Hall of Famer speaking alongside his band's keyboardist, David Rosenthal; musician and visual artist Andy Friedman, class of 1993, a New Yorker cartoonist who also has written for The New York Times, Rolling Stone and other publications; recently retired Paul Taylor Dance Company principal dancer Michael Trusnovec, class of 1992; the American Ballet Theatre's Artistic Coordinator for Educational Outreach, Richard Toda; and Cheri Walsh, executive director of the organization Exploring the Arts, founded by Tony Bennett and his wife, Susan Benedetto.

Moderating is Robert Dillon, District Superintendent of the Nassau Country branch of BOCES, the state's vocation-oriented Board of Cooperative Educational Services, to which the high school belongs.

"We're going to have a conversation with them about arts education and why a school like Long Island High School for the Arts is a viable and important thing to have," said Theresa Schaefer-Bell, a Nassau BOCES spokeswoman. The New York Times in 2002 referred to LIHSA as "a suburban version of New York City's 'Fame' schools," a reference to the 1980 movie about students at what was then Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts.

LIHSA, founded in 1973, has programs in theater, dance, music, special effects, digital media, fine art and film. The panel discussion will be preceded by a video of successful alumni, which have included actress Heather Matarazzo ("The Princess Diaries"), of Oyster Bay.

In January 2016, six-time Grammy Award-winner Joel pledged $1 million from his foundation to help save the then financially troubled school.

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