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Merry Christmas, Readers!

December 22, 2012
By Linda Comins - Life Editor , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Merry Christmas, readers! May your holiday season be blessed with meaningful celebrations, good times and great experiences with family and friends.

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled with a group from St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, Wheeling, on a coach trip to see Colonial Williamsburg at Christmas. We had a great time, seeing the sights, sharing a festive atmosphere in Tidewater Virginia and reliving a Colonial era-style observance of the holiday season.

Our group stayed at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Williamsburg. In the "small world" department, we discovered that a front desk manager at the hotel, Lesley Rogerson, had lived in Wheeling as a small child. Rogerson, who is from a family of six children, explained that her father, the late Frank Sanders, had worked as the recreation director at Oglebay Park 60 years ago.

Later, during a visit to the Virginia Living Museum, where we viewed a holiday planetarium show and saw huge aquariums, other animal habitats and a "green" exhibit, one of the docents related that she had attended a zoological training school at Oglebay.

We also enjoyed a driving tour of a holiday lighting show in a park in Newport News, Va. Although smaller in scope than Oglebay's Winter Festival of Lights, this lighting display had some interesting features not seen at Oglebay. Some of us observed that the Newport News show reminded us of the holiday lighting at Hartwood Acres in Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, when we stopped for lunch at a Cracker Barrel restaurant south of Washington, D.C., en route to Williamsburg, a register attendant remarked that he had heard of the Winter Festival of Lights at Oglebay. We encouraged him to come up and visit sometime.

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On a serious note, all of the holiday observances across the nation have been tempered by the sorrow and horror of the incomprehensible and senseless tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

That tragedy has affected people with connections to the Ohio Valley.

A Bethany College graduate's daughter was one of the children killed in the school shooting. Caroline Previdi, 6, was the beloved daughter of Jeffrey and Sandy Johnson Previdi. Jeffrey Previdi is a 1994 graduate of Bethany and a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

Beta members from Bethany, working with the General Fraternity and Beta Foundation staff, have established the Caroline Previdi of Sandy Hook Elementary Memorial Scholarship. Organizers said their goal is to raise at least $100,000.

"This endowment will ensure Caroline will be remembered in a positive way by providing annual scholarships to worthy students who are majoring in education," they stated.

Contributions may be sent to Beta Theta Pi Foundation, c/o Caroline Previdi of Sandy Hook Elementary Memorial Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 6277, 5134 Bonham Road, Oxford, OH 45056.

Brian Nolan, Bethany '94, is serving as chairman of the memorial scholarship project. Also leading the effort are S. Dean Lesiak, Bethany '74, president of the Psi Charitable Funds Foundation; Doug Miller, Bethany '78, president of the Psi Diamond Alumni Association, and Bethany junior Alex Delgiorno, current president of Beta's Psi chapter at the college.

In addition, Bethany Memorial Church is collecting donations for the Previdi family to use in honoring Caroline. To contribute, send a check to Bethany Memorial Church, P.O. Box 149, Bethany, WV 26032.

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Another Bethany alumnus, Philip Sandercox, also was affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but the situation had a happier ending for his family.

The Sandercoxes' 8-year-old son, George, and his third-grade classmates were led to safety through the school's back hall during the shooting incident, we've learned.

Philip Sandercox, who graduated from Bethany College in 1985, grew up in the village of Bethany as his parents, Robert and Nancy Sandercox, were both affiliated with the college in professional capacities.

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May the true meaning of Christmas bring solace to the families of Newtown, comfort to those who are suffering and hope to us all.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: Comins@news-register.net