Youth & Schools

Winning awards, hearts

Roma Otterson’s teachers are happy about the upcoming summer break, but they’re also upbeat about returning in September.

That’s because they know Roma, a 17-year-old junior, will be around for another year to uphold the standards of Prep Charter High School, 1624 S. 26th St.

The teen, one of the school’s top students, especially excels in English and math and is vice president of the National Honor Society.

Roma, of the 1900 block of South 30th Street, has earned awards for English, history, science and even community service. That’s right — the student finds time between acing her classes to volunteer in the Youth Education of Tomorrow program at her parish, Our Lady of Angels.

Beyond her education at school, Roma has learned plenty from her parents, Roma and Bob, whom she considers her role models and friends.

"They work hard and raised me and my two sisters to be respectful young adults," she says.

Claudia Kirkley, the dean of students at Prep, couldn’t agree more.

"Her ability to be a good friend to so many students of all backgrounds is her most outstanding characteristic," she says. "Her level-headedness and maturity surpass all her years. She is the consummate student and is friendly to everyone, compassionate and the one who always mediates when there’s a problem."

And if that isn’t enough, she’s just nice to be around, Kirkey adds.

"She has a soothing tone to her voice and a winning smile that melts our hearts."

Roma Otterson will receive a $150 savings bond. The Review has a sufficient amount of nominations for the remainder of the school year, so subsequent nominees will be featured next fall. If you would like to nominate a student (first through 12th grades), call 215-336-2500 ext. 120 or e-mail for a nomination form.

Making music a class act

The D’Addario Foundation for the Performing Arts has awarded a $5,000 grant to Strings for Schools, Inc., in support of music education programs and workshops in three local schools — Southwark Elementary, Ninth and Mifflin streets; Fell Elementary, Ninth Street and Oregon Avenue; and Thomas Middle School, Ninth and Johnston streets.

At Southwark, the Barnett String Quartet is working with a group of sixth-graders to construct wind, brass and string instruments out of everyday materials. Fell students are learning about Brazilian history, language and art in relation to music from the Minas Trio. At Thomas Middle School, the John Blake Jazz Quartet is giving lessons about the roots of American jazz by combining geography, history and science.

For more information on how to bring Strings for Schools to your school or community, visit or call 215-829-9522.