Sunday, April 6, 2003

Good News

Schoolchildren raise dollars for Freedom Center

By Karen Vance

Donations totaling $1,700 toward the $110 million construction of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center might not seem like a lot.

But those dollars have an extra significance. They're from local schoolchildren.

"This is community effort. We really want to reach out to young people because they're our future Underground Railroad conductors," said Steve DeVillez, public relations coordinator for the Freedom Center. "We want them to feel this is their freedom center. They can say to their children, 'I sold popcorn to build that.'"

That's exactly what students at Stewart Elementary School, 11850 Conrey Road, Sharonville be able to say.

Third-grade pupils at the school sold popcorn at lunch during February, raising $100 for the Freedom Center and another $50 to help sickle cell anemia patients, said Principal Sandra Pirkle.

The school, part of the Princeton City School District, hosted an assembly last week to present center representatives with a check.

"They had studied about Harriet Tubman and knew about the Freedom Center," she said. "They had an idea that they were working toward something for somebody else and that they should be proud of themselves for their generosity."

In all, students from Cincinnati-area schools have contributed more than $1,700 toward the center. Other schools include the John F. Dumont School, the North Avondale Montessori School, Seven Hills Schools, St. Bartholomew Consolidated School's PTO, St. Xavier High School, Sycamore Community School District, the Society of the Transfiguration Bethany School, Winton Woods School District and William Bick Elementary School in Bethel.

The center has received about $90 million from all sources toward the 158,000-square-foot complex, which is scheduled to open in summer 2004, DeVillez said.


Nathanael Bonnell, a Finneytown Middle School eighth-grader, will represent the Cincinnati area at the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., May 25-30.

Bonnell, the son of Steve and Ann Bonnell, won the school's sixth- and seventh-grade bees in the past and the regional bee on March 26.

Allen Howard is on vacation. Karen Vance will write "Some Good News" until he returns. If you have a "good news" story you would like to share, e-mail Karen at

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