Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Striking a pose for their school

William Smith, 14, poses as Joe Frazier at "Night at the Wax Museum" fundraiser.
William Smith, 14, poses as Joe Frazier at "Night at the Wax Museum" fundraiser.
William Smith, 14, poses as Joe Frazier at "Night at the Wax Museum" fundraiser. Gallery: Striking a pose for their school

Crystal Brown was a SEPTA bus driver when she saw a woman helping schoolchildren cross the street - making sure they safely got on the bus and that they weren't goofing off at the corner store.

Brown, the mother of four, asked one of the children who got on her bus, "Who is that?"

"That's our principal," the girl replied, according to Brown.

Brown was told that the woman was Sister Nancy Fitzgerald, principal of St. Martin De Porres School, at 23rd Street and Lehigh Avenue, in North Philadelphia.

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  • "It showed love, and I'm not used to that from public schools," Brown said.

    Brown - who after her encounter enrolled her two children in St. Martin's - was among those who gathered to show her love last night at a "Night at the Wax Museum" dinner and cocktail-reception fundraiser for St. Martin's at the Diamond Club at Citizen's Bank Park.

    In a time when enrollment in Catholic schools is declining, Fitzgerald said that the fundraiser, which also had corporate sponsorship, was a chance to show off its commitment to providing more families with quality education.

    "The purpose is to raise a profile of our school, raise awareness of our school, let more people know who we are and what we do and hopefully invite them to share in some way that they can in our mission," Fitzgerald said.

    "We produce young people of good morals and of good motivation," Fitzgerald said.

    The focal point of the evening was the wax museum project put on by the eighth graders. Their teacher Susan Polin said that it was also a way to pay back to those that have supported the school tremendously.

    Each student acted as a "wax" statue of a famous African-American person in honor of Black History Month, a project that has been going on for almost 10 years at the school.

    Students posed as teacher and civil-rights leader Mary McLeod Bethune, civil-rights activist Frederick Douglass, boxing great Joe Frazier, actress Halle Berry and tennis pro Arthur Ashe.

    Alexis Brown, who posed as singer Lena Horne, said that she had been working on the project since November and was pleased to be a part of an event that showcased her school.

    "It's very cool to see people supporting our school," Brown said, before getting back into position holding a microphone. "But I'm a little nervous."

    "As you can see they really excel and succeed, and we want to advance that and make that accessible to more people," Fitzgerald said.

    "Whereas some schools are closing, we want to make sure that we're flourishing, and to flourish you can't stand alone."

    olleyc@phillynews.com 215-854-5184
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