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NIAGARA-WHEATFIELD: For pennies, Edward Town Middle School earns big concert

By Nick Mattera

A teenage heartthrob with a thing for double chocolate dip donuts, Sour Patch Kids and singing love songs is coming to Niagara-Wheatfield’s Edward Town Middle School thanks to an effort by students and staff to raise money for a good cause.

Edward Town was the top school in the 2010 Kiss 98.5 School Spirit Competition, beating out 56 other local schools and raising $16,927 for Women’s and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. The grand prize, a free concert by teen music sensation Justin Bieber has left the school buzzing.

Students walked the halls in shirts with the 15-year-old’s face screen-printed on them while they sang songs made famous by Bieber played by Principal Laura Palka over the school’s speakers.

“I went crazy when I heard it on the radio. I even cried a little bit,” said 13-year-old Ashleigh Burglo, an eighth grade student at the school. “This makes me proud to say I go to Edward Town.”

The group of students all willingly admitted to having posters of Bieber on their walls, could also name his favorite foods, birthday and hometown with little effort — and if you didn’t believe them you could just read it on their shirts.

“I love him, he’s so cute, I can’t wait until he comes. I might faint,” 11-year-old Cheyanne Lewis said laughing.

The contest began around Chirstmas time and school officials said the effort was successful thanks to everyone at the 950-student school.

“Everyone worked together, and everyone realized the difference they were making,” said sixth grade teacher Angela Gramza. “While the boys would never admit to wanting Justin to come here, they helped out because it was for Children’s Hospital.”

Edward Town defeated Gowanda Middle School by more than $2,000. In all, the contest raised $152,637 for the orthopedic spinal surgery suite at Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Twelve-year-old Deanna Todino said that as excited as she is for Bieber to come to the school, she’s just as proud of what the school was able to accomplish.

“It makes you feel good because I know that Children’s Hospital is for kids my age,” she explained. “The money we raised will really make a difference for them.”

The group of teachers and students weren’t willing to divulge all of their fundraising tactics but did say they couldn’t have done it without support of the entire community. The teachers collected money daily in homerooms and said they ran fundraisers at a recent dance and parents garnered contributions from local businesses.

“This whole process taught our kids a bunch of different lessons,” said math teacher Ashley Wood. “Overall it proves to them that with hard work and dedication for a good cause, you can achieve anything.”

A representative from Kiss 98.5 said that a date for Bieber has not been determined yet but negotiations are under way with his management team.