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General Brown students sell ribbons in support of Newtown, Conn.

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DEXTER — Within 12 hours of the Dec. 14 shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, General Brown Central School District students rallied to bring hope and comfort to that community and their own.

Senior Maggie L. Ambrose, 17, said that as her volleyball teammates stretched for practice that night, they discussed the tragedy that left nearly 30 people dead.

“Someone said we should make ribbons, and then after that we couldn’t get a day for us to get together, and when I caught wind of Nancy’s event, we wanted to do it together,” she said.

Her friend Nancy C. Bauter, 16, a junior, created a Facebook event for students to show support for Sandy Hook Elementary by wearing green last Monday.

Maggie said her mother then suggested they make ribbons for the whole school. The original plan began with just two spools of ribbon in green and white, the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary, but little did they know that their spontaneous community service project would be magnetic.

“Within the first two lunch periods Monday, we raised $250,” Nancy said.

Ribbons were sold for a donation, mostly for $1, from students, faculty and staff, but some teachers donated as much as $20 for the cause. While being interviewed by the Times on Thursday, the girls received a phone order for 20 more ribbons, and along with that came a $40 donation. The girls said all money collected will go toward grief counseling for Sandy Hook elementary pupils.

The girls said they expected to raise only $400 by Friday, but their ribbon sale collected $562. The school’s chapter of the National Honor Society contributed $438 to make it an even $1,000 for Sandy Hook Elementary.

According to Sandy Hook Elementary’s website, individual donations also may be sent to Sandy Hook School Support Fund, c/o Newtown Savings Bank, 39 Main St., Newtown, Conn. 06470.

Support ribbons were sold in the cafeteria of the General Brown junior/senior high school, 17643 Cemetery Road, all last week during the student council’s “GB Gives Back Week.” A banner, which Maggie and Nancy hope every junior/senior high school student will sign, will be sent to Newtown to show the community that it is in General Brown’s thoughts.

“We thought to pretty much have a week where we focused on all the stuff General Brown does to give back to the community,” said Alanna M. Savage, 17, a senior and Student Council vice president. “Here at the school, we always get together, have meetings, and there’s many ways they can participate and give back.”

Senior Morgan T. Todd, 17, said community service is commonplace among General Brown students.

“We just like to help have a better community all around,” said Morgan, Key Club president. “It’s to get our community back on track and make sure everyone’s set for Christmas and Easter, and we (as a club) have another blood drive planned.”

Principal Tina M. Heckman said that while the district’s strategic plan included a June 2011 goal of having each student perform community service on an annual basis and participate in at least one school or community extracurricular activity each year, students have far exceeded the district’s expectations.

“They’re always coming to us with ideas,” she said. “It’s a testament to the spirit our students have.”

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