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Posted on Sun, May 23, 2010 : 5:30 a.m.

David Shapiro steps up when leadership is needed

By James Dickson


David Shapiro stands outside of the Ann Arbor YMCA, where he volunteers with the YMCA Leaders Club.

Angela J. Cesere |

David Shapiro has waited years to sit in the big chair.

Each year, the students who run Breakin' Curfew select bring along one freshman to observe and contribute a little if they're up for it, Shapiro said, and four years ago he was that freshman.

His responsibilities grew each year, and by the time he was a junior Shapiro had matured from a helper to a leader, helming the marketing campaign for the concert.

This year, as a senior, Shapiro was named head curator of Breakin' Curfew, which is a Neutral Zone partnership with the University Musical Society.

David Shapiro

  • Age: 18
  • Parents: Ruby and Richard Shapiro
  • School: Community High School
  • Community activities: Head Curator, "Breakin' Curfew," a partnership between the Neutral Zone and the University Musical Society; Camp counselor, Camp Al-gon-quian; Board of Directors, Teen Advisory Council, The Neutral Zone; YMCA's Leaders Club; Election inspector, 2008 Presidential Election
  • Nominated by: Ingrid Racine, of the Neutral Zone
  • College plans: Oberlin College (accepted); University of Michigan (waitlisted)
  • Favorite superhero: Batman
While the typical head curator is tasked with making sure the performance goes off smoothly, this year Shapiro faced a different challenge. The week of the show, staffers at The Neutral Zone found hundreds of Breakin' Curfew fliers bagged up and left at the door of its downtown offices.

The community, or at least one member of it, had spoken: stop littering our streets to advertise your show.

In an open-letter to the community, posted on, Shapiro admitted that, in the past, Breakin' Curfew's curators - himself included - didn't always clean up the fliers they posted all over town.

Shapiro promised that the curators this year will do better and entreated the community's help with the cleanup. He didn't shy away from or minimize the controversy - and he didn't win over everybody. But he did get out in front of it.

Ingrid Racine of the Neutral Zone said that Shapiro is a "big picture" guy, as willing and able to work alongside a peer on a project as he is to raise money from an elderly donor at Glacier Hills.

Josh Humbel, director of youth and teen programs at the local YMCA, said that Shapiro stood out among the students in the Y's Leaders Club. Though Shapiro admitted feeling out of his element on a Leaders Club trip to Prague, Humbel recalls the young man, then 16, going out of his way to help other young students adjust to the culture shock.

Shapiro looks to continue leading at the college level. He has been accepted at Oberlin College in Ohio, but is hoping for a yes from the University of Michigan, where he has been waitlisted. The hometown kid said he'd have no problem sticking around Ann Arbor another four years.

"I've had a lot of friends go to Michigan from high school," Shapiro said, "and it's a very different experience. I'd love the chance to study at Michigan and stay in town, but I'm also excited about Oberlin. This is an exciting time."

James Dickson can be reached at