Actor, comedian and star banjo player STEVE MARTIN wowed a sold-out crowd during a performance with the STEEP CANYON RANGERS at last weekend’s Illumination Gala to benefit The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital. The event at The Ritz-Carlton, which drew 600 guests, raised approximately $1.8 million for cancer research.

Free for lunch? A lunchtime celebration is being held in Shaw Park in Clayton today, April 26, to mark the opening of the new CENTENNIAL GREENWAY TRAIL. The 2-mile trail, which connects Clayton, Ladue, Olivette and University City, begins at 170 and Olive Boulevard and ends in Shaw Park. Today’s party, hosted by GREAT RIVERS GREENWAY, is from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., and will feature a ribbon-cutting, free bike rentals and pedicab rides, and food trucks on-site.

U.S. News and World Report has released its 2013 Best High Schools list, and four St. Louis schools, including CLAYTON HIGH SCHOOL, finished in the top four in Missouri. The rankings, based on state proficiency standards and how well the schools prepare students for college, lists METRO ACADEMIC AND CLASSICAL HIGH SCHOOL as No. 1, followed by CLAYTON, KIRKWOOD and MARQUETTE high schools.

A Kirkwood middle school teacher is among 200 chosen nationwide to form a ‘dream team’ of educators. LUIS ACTIS, who's been teaching seventh-grade math at Nipher Middle School for 10 years, was chosen as part of the LearnZillion Dream Team based on his understanding of the Common Core State Standards and his ability to create highly conceptual lessons for students. He’ll be traveling to San Francisco next month to attend an intensive professional development conference, as well as work with other teachers to make their teaching methods available for free to every student, teacher and parent through online technology. Actis tells LN that he looks forward to learning more about using the technology to teach and provide students with a way of learning at their own pace. He also hopes to walk away with about 15 digital lessons for use at Nipher next year. 

How was prom? LN would like to know! We’re looking for the best prom photos to feature in our May 10 issue. Send us your favorite picture, along with names, date of prom and high school. We’ll publish as many photos as space allows. All of them will appear on our website. Email photos (at least 1MB in size) to Julia Christensen,, with PROM in the subject line.

THE MUNY will be seeing lots of star traffic on its stage this season. In addition to the previously announced casting of TV star JOHN O’HURLEY (J. Peterman of Seinfeld fame) in the season-opener Monty Python’s Spamalot, there’s word that St. Louis native PHYLLIS SMITH from The Office is making her Muny debut in Nunsense. Smith will play ‘Sister Julia, Child of God’ in the ‘all-Muny’ edition of the popular comedy, which runs July 1 through 7.

Congratulations to ST. LUKE’S HOSPITAL, a recent recipient of the 2013 Healthgrades Outstanding Patient Experience Award. The recognition ranks St. Luke’s among the top 5 percent of hospitals nationwide, based on an independent analysis of patient satisfaction data. This is the third year in a row that the Chesterfield hospital has received the award.

More kudos go out to SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL for earning the Gold Plus performance award from the American Heart Association. The distinction recognizes SLU for ensuring care that’s consistent with the most up-to-date scientific guidelines for treating patients with heart failure and stroke.