HOMECOMING FOR A CAUSE: The last time he stood on the stage at Newton South High School, B.J. Novak was performing alongside his future “The Office” co-star John Krasinski in their senior class show in 1997.
On April 16 at 7:30 p.m., Novak will be back at his alma mater to read from his new book, “One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories,” and answer questions about writing and life in Hollywood.
The event will benefit the school’s Southside program, which assists students who need extra support. Novak said the fund-raiser was inspired by his mother, Linda Novak, a teaching assistant in the program.
“Newton South is a place with very high expectations, and while that’s in general a good thing, some people need an extra boost to adjust to that environment,” said Novak, noting that the program helps all students feel “believed in.”
“When you’re expected to be a success, you start to internalize it,” said Novak, who in addition to acting is a screenwriter, director, and stand-up comic. “Developing habits around excellence is so important, no matter what you do.”
Novak, who lives in Los Angeles, has only returned to Newton South once before, to speak to a class about writing. Yet he has fond memories of the school, where he honed his comedic writing skills in the student newspaper — and made classmates Josh Funk and Hunter Fraser laugh during history class.
Novak said he expects to be asked typical questions — how he got his start in television and movies, and about his dual roles of writing and acting. But he is also interested in learning what is on the students’ minds.
“I want to hear from the kids who are just like I was a few years ago,” he said.
Tickets cost $15. There are also a limited number of $75 “premium packages,’’ which feature a reception with Novak before the show, a copy of his book, and reserved seating. Tickets must be ordered by mail, care of Linda Novak, Newton South High School, Goodwin House, 140 Brandeis Road, Newton Centre, MA 02459.
Checks should be payable to Southside Program/NSHS, with an e-mail address included for order confirmation. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
SCIENCE AND COOKING: Patrons at next weekend’s annual fund-raiser to support Cary Memorial Library in Lexington will get a taste of the popular general education course offered by Harvard University professor Michael Brenner, “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter.”
The Newton resident, who is the Glover Professor of Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics at Harvard, will be the keynote speaker at the Cooks and Books benefit, which takes place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the library, 735 Massachusetts Ave.
“Cooking is not luck,” said Brenner, who has collaborated on a series of lectures with Harvard researchers and world-class chefs. The goal, he said, is to make people think about the scientific basis behind cooking — such as why baking powder is used instead of baking soda, or the reasoning for sautéing onions in oil instead of water.
“Often people don’t understand why it happens, they just try to make it happen,” he said, “but if you understand why, it gives you the power of manipulation.”
Additional presenters include author Liz Weiss of Lexington, MIT engineer and author Nate Ball, and representatives from Kids Cooking Green, Wilson Farm, Growing for Good, Element Brewing Co., MA - France, Berman’s Fine Wines and Spirits, and Rancatore’s Ice Cream.
Tickets cost $25 for adults and $10 for students. For more information, call 781-862-6288 or visit www.carylibrary.org.
LEGACY LIVES ON: Parish of the Messiah, an Episcopal church at 900 Commonwealth Ave. in Newton, will hold a pottery show and sale Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., to support efforts to provide an education for children in South Africa.
The “1,000 Mugs for South Africa’’ project was the dream of the late Marlene Nelson, a Messiah parishioner, surgical nurse, photographer, and Harvard Ceramics Studio potter who spent several weeks in the township of Khetani, South Africa, in the late 1990s. Moved by the effect of HIV/AIDS, the region’s high unemployment rate, and the needs of the Zulu children, she pledged to make 1,000 mugs that could be sold to raise money for local schools.
Although Nelson’s death from cancer at age 67 in 2008 prevented her from reaching her goal, her friends have continued her vision. In her memory, fellow potters made and donated 1,000 mugs that generated more than $20,000 in sales at multiple shows.
According to Wayland resident David Nelson, project coordinator for the Parish of the Messiah (and no relation to Marlene Nelson), potters at Harvard Ceramics Studio recently committed to crafting additional mugs after learning about the continuing demand. Approximately 200 mugs will be available at the church sale next weekend.
Nelson, who had known Marlene since 1965, said he believes she would be proud and humbled by the support of her friends and fellow potters.
“Her great concern was for those kids,” he said, “and anything that had any promise of helping them, in any way, she would just be delighted by.”
For more information about Saturday’s pottery sale or the 1,000 Mugs project, call 617-527-8505 or visit www.parishofthemessiah.org.
BENEFITING BOYS TO MEN: Several local residents will be performing in the third annual Voices of Boys and Men concert benefiting Boys to Men New England, a nonprofit organization that provides group mentoring programs for youths 12 to 17 years old.
The event will take place next Sunday from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Scullers Jazz Club, 400 Soldiers Field Road in Boston. The theme is “Building Community Through Mentoring.”
Local participants include Framingham folk musician Geoff Bartley, who will be performing with Howie Tarnower; jazz diva Tracy Clark of Newton; brothers Nick and Adrian Scott of Newton; 16-year-old saxophonist Sarah Hanahan of Marlborough; cabaret duo Linda Marks of Newton and Bonnie MacLeod of Canton; and Newton resident Angela Warner, daughter of the late jazz legend Shirley Lewis.
Marks, cochairwoman of the Boys to Men New England board of directors, became involved with the organization six years ago when — as a single mother — she was seeking male role models for her then 12-year-old son, Alex.
“It not only takes a village to raise a child, but even more so it takes a group of men and boys to guide teenage boys through the very challenging journey to manhood in our world today,” she email@example.com.