In early December of 2009, the Studio School honored the legacy of Virginia O’Hanlon by holding our first “Dear Virginia” Celebration. We created this annual event to celebrate Virginia’s deep belief in the importance of education for all children, and her lifetime of work toward making this ideal a reality. At this first Celebration, Head of School Janet C. Rotter spoke passionately about The Studio School’s commitment to offering need-based scholarships for students of merit, and announced the creation of the Virginia O’Hanlon Scholarship Fund to further this commitment.
A large gathering, including three generations of the O’Hanlon family, attended this first Celebration, which also included the dedication of an historic plaque in Virginia’s name. After all, it was here that Virginia wrote her world-renowned letter asking “Is there a Santa Claus?” Mary Temple Blair, Virginia’s granddaughter, had this to say, “I am delighted to know that [my grandmother’s] childhood home, rescued from years of abandonment, has been transformed into The Studio School. I am thrilled it is now a place where today’s children are given the opportunity to learn and grow. It is a remarkable tribute to her lifelong dedication to the education of young children…”
Since that first December, our annual “Dear Virginia” Celebration has become an important and integral part of the Studio calendar. O’Hanlon family members have attended. At one Celebration we were delighted to be joined by award-winning New York Times journalist Clyde Haberman who – after a student had read Virginia’s “Is there a Santa Claus?” letter – read Francis Pharcellus Church’s resounding editorial response. The annual Celebration often includes a book drive, where the Studio School community collected gently-used children’s books for donation. And, of course, every Celebration has included musical presentations by our Studio Chorus.
The Studio School community continues to delight in the wonderful synchronicity of our connection to Virginia O’Hanlon, and our annual “Dear Virginia” Celebrations and the scholarship fund in her name will continue to honor her curiosity and her life’s work.
Below are two videos from previous Dear Virginia Celebrations.