Montgomery County D.A.'s dress-down days net $1,500 for school

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Dressed-up officials gathered at a Norristown school Wednesday, but luckily nobody got a dressing down.

Instead, the gathering was a happy one; Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman handed over the proceeds of the Casual Friday charity project begun in her office a year ago.

"Those of you who know me know I have never dressed down," said Ferman who wore a bright blue dress. "It's not my style. But my staff took ample advantage of it."

Ferman's 140 workers put $1 in the kitty each time they wore jeans to work, and the kitty became a full-grown cat; Wednesday Ferman delivered a check for $1,500 to Hancock Elementary School for a stopgap fund to help students who might need shoes, glasses, or a coat.

The decision to donate the money to the school came from Ferman's staff.

With Norristown Area School District Superintendent Janet C. Samuels urging them on, three of Hancock's 450 students, in light-blue tops and navy pants, overcame shyness to express their thanks on behalf of the school.

Speaking in what Samuels called "your outdoor voice," Mark McClellan, 9, a fourth grader, said: "Thank you, District Attorney Ferman. With your help, we are creating a better world."

Evelyn Jimenez, 7, a second grader, and Mackenzie Krueger, 7, a first grader, also delivered scripted remarks. Afterward, they were able to relax.

"I am in awe of them," Ferman said, smiling. "They were so eloquent and assured and adorable."

Evelyn admitted to a bad case of the jitters. "I was nervous that I wasn't ready yet," she said. "Then I got over it, and I read the rest."

Public speaking, the children said, takes work. "I practiced at home with my parents, with my uncle, and I practiced while I was riding to school," Mark said.

The Norristown Area School District has 6,800 students who come from diverse backgrounds and attend 11 schools. Hancock, in a modest neighborhood of Norristown, does not have spare money if a child arrives at school with no coat, or shoes, or glasses.

"We're going to be very meticulous, and we're going to be very careful in using these funds," Samuels said.


Contact staff writer Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or bcook@phillynews.com.