The Richmond Register

December 2, 2012

New Opportunity School for Women hosts 25th Graduate Reunion Celebration

Special to the Register

BEREA — On Nov. 3 the New Opportunity School for Women hosted its 25th graduate reunion and anniversary celebration at the First Christian Church in Berea. 

More than 200 guests including NOSW graduates, their families and community supporters were in attendance to celebrate graduates' accomplishments as well as to honor the NOSW’s founder, Jane Stephenson.

Highlights of the day included a graduate workshop facilitated by NOSW instructor and local artist Debra Hille, where graduates spent the morning catching up, reminiscing and crafting individual cloth meditation squares that were later strung together to form one wall hanging. 

The awards luncheon recognized seven graduates and one non-graduate for their achievements during this past year, and also included a surprise presentation to long-time self-esteem instructor, Janie Polk, who “retired” after more than 12 years of service to the NOSW. 

The NOSW also was presented with a $40,000 grant from the WHO Foundation to help with session and post-fire rebuilding costs.

Two memorable highlights were the viewing of David Stephenson’s documentary chronicling the NOSW’s 25 years, 27 Years of Service to the Women of Appalachia: the New Opportunity School for Women, and remarks from Jane Stephenson which included the official presentation of her new book, Changing Lives in Appalachia: The New Opportunity School for Women. 

The afternoon’s celebration closed with Dr. Kathy Bullock, professor of music at Berea College, leading graduates in singing “Lean on Me.”

2012 Award recipients were: Women Leading Kentucky Education Scholarship – Olivia Muwanga; Woman of Achievement Award (graduate) – Farrah Chadwell; Evan Frankel Education Scholarship – Debbie Mears; American Association of University Women Education Scholarship April Burton; Janie Polk Education Scholarship – Teena Rankin; Joy Award – Linda Jenkins; and John B. Stephenson Loyalty Award – Lauren Skiles. 

One award was also given to a non-graduate for service to the NOSW:  Woman of Achievement Award (non-graduate) – Jo Ann Grimes, NOSW quilt designer/local Berea artist.