Megan Stanley is modeling a career on the runway

by M. L. Dwyer 

Standing at a statuesque 5’10” tall and wearing a size 9.5 shoe has not always been a comfortable thing for 17-year-old Megan Stanley of Newtown. Growing up as one of the taller girls amongst her peers, and towering over the boys, Megan, a junior at Council Rock North, felt uncomfortable with her height. That is, until she entered a “Be a Model for a Day” contest in April 2013 at the King of Prussia Mall. Although she did not win the contest, she did get signed by Wilhelmina, one of the largest and most successful modeling agencies in the world.

Overnight, Megan was introduced to the world of fashion and glamour. Sent by Wilhelmina for a ‘go see’ in SoHo New York, she learned how to navigate around New York City. Megan recently participated in the prestigious Mercedes Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Square. There she walked for, and donned the latest fashions from, two up-and-coming designers, Furne One by Amato and Altaf Maaneshia. Denise Stanley, Megan’s supportive mom, is caught up in the thrill of all that has transpired for her daughter. She said that on Altaf Maaneshia’s Facebook page he has posted a video of Fashion Week in which Megan can be seen walking and modeling the designer’s clothes.

Megan also participated in Philadelphia Fashion Week 2014, where she wore the designs of Dom Streater, the first African American winner on the TV show Project Runway.

Flashback to a time before Megan appreciated her tall and svelte body, and was just a typical, suburban teen shopping in New Hope. While browsing in Three Crane Gallery a couple of years ago, she was approached by the owners asking her if she modeled and, if so, would she like to model for them. Megan quickly dismissed the thought and went on her way. Now, empowered with a newfound confidence, interest, and experience in modeling, she recently contacted the owners of Three Crane Gallery to see if they were still interested in her. And interested they were…they needed a model for their website! There you can see Megan modeling Mudmee Tie Dye clothes, a method of tie dying from Thailand.

While interviewing Megan, I asked her which models she most admires. Having so many favorites she was unable to pinpoint one, but said that her ultimate career aspiration is to become a Victoria’s Secret Angel. While only a junior in high school, Megan is considering a gap year of modeling after graduation to see where this path may lead. As far as college, she has a strong interest in design. These two areas go hand in hand and promise to keep Megan in the fast-paced world of fashion and glamour.

PHOTO CAP: Megan Stanley on the runway. Photo by Denise Stanley.

Share

Newtown child actress, singer and dancer has featured performance during Super Bowl Half-Time Show

by June Portnoy

When George Matwijec turned on the TV to watch the Super Bowl this year, his primary interest was much more than whether the Broncos or Seahawks won.

Instead, his focus was on the halftime show, where none other than his 10-year-old daughter, Grace Matwijec, was featured, singing “Prepare” among the Kids Choir with superstar Bruno Mars. Grace was one of only 12 children selected from hundreds who auditioned in New York for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“When I got this part, I had no idea that I’d be singing in front of 85,000 people, plus the entire nation,” says Grace, “but I wasn’t nervous at all.  I was really excited to have this chance to perform in front of so many people.”

“For the first 30 seconds of the performance, the cameras panned each girl very closely, so you could clearly see Grace,” says George. “I sat in disbelief watching Grace perform on national TV. Our entire family watched her from all over the country.”

Although Grace has had many big roles in the past, she admits that singing during the Super Bowl’s halftime show was by far one of her most exciting moments.

A close second to this performance was Grace’s 2½-month Broadway national tour performing “White Christmas” in eight different cities.  During this production, Grace played the principle role of Susan Waverly.

A highlight of performing in this production was that it entitled Grace to receive her Actors’ Equity card while on tour. As an Equity member, she is now a part of the most distinguished body of professional actors and stage managers in the nation.

Grace, who has danced since she was three, caught the acting bug right in her hometown during the Newtown Historic Association’s annual Market Day. While there, a representative from the Newtown Theatre was recruiting young talent. Grace was five at the time that she was invited to audition.

She accepted the invitation, auditioned, and got her first acting role in the ensemble cast of “Meet Me in St. Louis.” From that point, she was hooked on acting. She performed in several more shows at the Newtown Theatre, as well as at other various local theaters. Plus, she performed at the Walnut Street Theatre in the “The Music Man,” and at the Bucks County Playhouse presentation of “Really Rosie.”

In addition to acting, Grace models. Her face was featured on the packaging of Flipeez Hats. She has also done work for American Girl and Spirit Halloween. Grace recently performed in an upcoming music video with a young artist about the importance of respecting the dignity of kids with autism. Despite Grace’s high profile, her parents watch carefully to be sure all this fame doesn’t go to her head, and Grace remains a full-time student.

“It’s important to us that we keep the normalcy in Grace’s life as much as possible, and fortunately, she remains very grounded,” says George. “After taking her bows on stage, she goes home and plays with her American Girl dolls or does her homework.”

George is emphatic that schoolwork always comes first.

“I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything by spending so much time performing or that it’s changed me,” says Grace. “It doesn’t phase me when people come up to me after a show to ask for an autograph or compliment me.”

George does see many benefits of Grace’s acting experiences. “Her confidence is off the charts,” he says. “If she can sing in front of millions of people at the Super Bowl, she can handle any type of public speaking, and this skill will transfer well throughout her entire life.”

Starting March 8th, Grace will be performing in Lancaster’s Sight Sound Theater’s “Moses,” where she has the role of Young Miriam. 

There seems to be no stopping Grace, and that’s just the way she likes it. She says, “Although being in so many performances can sometimes be challenging, I wouldn’t have it any other way because I love everything I’m doing.” Her goal is to someday perform on Broadway.

To see for yourself all that Grace has accomplished, visit her blog at bellagracemarie.com.

PHOTO CAP: Grace Matwijec

Share

Bucks County Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired

The Bucks County Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (BCABVI) is an independent non-profit organization serving the residents of Bucks County. Their vision is rich, vibrant and independent lives for all people who are blind or visually impaired.

They realize their vision applies to every potential client in a unique way. For this reason, BCABVI offers a range of services that can be customized for each specific situation. Whether it is short-term intervention or long-term support, BCABVI can offer solutions appropriate for each person’s individual needs. 

BCABVI operates two Low Vision Clinics, one in Newtown and a second in Telford, PA where patients can receive specialized Low Vision Evaluations, Assistive Technology and Low Vision Aids. In their facility located at 400 Freedom Drive in Newtown, clients can participate in Support Groups for Vision Loss, Life Skills Trainings and Social/Recreational Activities. Transportation is available. Community based services include in-home supports, free vision screenings for children and adults and educational presentations.

Most services are offered at no charge and no one is turned away based on an inability to pay.  To offset the cost of these valuable services, BCABVI operates a thriving thrift shop located at 400 Freedom Drive in Newtown.

The Thrift Shop at BCABVI is not your typical thrift store.  Donations of tax-deductible treasures become part of a boutique of gently used, high-quality items. One hundred percent of all proceeds from sales are used to support the services and programs of the association.

BCABVI also hosts a variety of events to raise needed funds.  The Third Annual Fashion Show is scheduled for Sunday, May 18th, at the Doylestown Country Club. This Casablanca inspired event features a luxurious silent auction and high end/vintage fashion. Sponsorship opportunities are now available.    

For a complete listing of services, information about the Thrift Shop or upcoming events visit BCABVI’s website at www.bucksblind.org or contact Anne Marie Hyer at 215.968.9400.

Share

Potential, Inc.

Potential, Inc., a non-profit organization located in Newtown, provides Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), speech and elementary school services and more to individuals who have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Potential, Inc. seeks to assist individuals with developmental disabilities in reaching their educational, social, and emotional potential by focusing on applying and conducting scientific research. Serving ages one through 64, Potential, Inc. is dedicated to providing high quality direct services, consultation, community outreach and education for families and professionals.

Its goal is to provide the highest quality interventions for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. They utilize current research in ABA, which includes an analysis of Verbal Behavior (VB) to improve communication, behavior, toileting, social skills and more.

Volunteer opportunities include participating in their “Make a Friend” program, assisting with administrative duties, or helping out at their annual fundraising event. This year’s event, “Auction for Autism,” will take place on Saturday, March 29th, at Spring Mill Manor in Ivyland. Proceeds benefit their clientele directly and allow them to purchase therapy supplies and improve upon their programs and services.

For the latest information, visit their website (www.potentialinc.org), call 215-579-0670, or e-mail info@potentialinc.org.

Share

Sycamore Street Community Association

Sycamore Street in Newtown was once considered a run-down thruway for Newtown until a number of local residents and business owners sought to change the perception of the street. The vision was to create a pedestrian-friendly “Town-Center” for Newtown Township, featuring an array of restaurants, shops, professional businesses and continued residential living to enhance life in Newtown. Hence, the Sycamore Street Community Association (SSCA) was born.

Fast forward to today with the reconstruction of Sycamore Street, including stamped concrete sidewalks, period lighting fixtures and streetscape amenities, such as seating benches, trash receptacles and brick crosswalks. Sycamore Street has been transformed into the signature main street of Newtown Township, saying, “Welcome to Downtown Newtown Township!”

Many exciting events are now held year-round on the street, including SSCA’s Annual Summerfest & Corvette Show, Sycamore Under the Stars Food & Wine Festival, the Annual Newtown Irish Festival, Newtown’s own Welcome Day, and numerous parades and more. ”We are proud of what we accomplished so far, and the future is bright for Sycamore Street!” stated Shawn Ward, SSCA Board President.

Expected this spring is the long-awaited Promenade on Sycamore, which is expected to be anchored by an upscale retailer and 26 luxury apartments.  Everyone in the community is invited to explore Sycamore Street in Newtown for their needs and watch for event updates on Facebook (Facebook|Sycamore Street Community Association).

Share

Sycamore Street Community Association

Sycamore Street in Newtown was once considered a run-down thruway for Newtown until a number of local residents and business owners sought to change the perception of the street. The vision was to create a pedestrian-friendly “Town-Center” for Newtown Township, featuring an array of restaurants, shops, professional businesses and continued residential living to enhance life in Newtown. Hence, the Sycamore Street Community Association (SSCA) was born.

Fast forward to today with the reconstruction of Sycamore Street, including stamped concrete sidewalks, period lighting fixtures and streetscape amenities, such as seating benches, trash receptacles and brick crosswalks. Sycamore Street has been transformed into the signature main street of Newtown Township, saying, “Welcome to Downtown Newtown Township!”

Many exciting events are now held year-round on the street, including SSCA’s Annual Summerfest & Corvette Show, Sycamore Under the Stars Food & Wine Festival, the Annual Newtown Irish Festival, Newtown’s own Welcome Day, and numerous parades and more. ”We are proud of what we accomplished so far, and the future is bright for Sycamore Street!” stated Shawn Ward, SSCA Board President.

Expected this spring is the long-awaited Promenade on Sycamore, which is expected to be anchored by an upscale retailer and 26 luxury apartments.  Everyone in the community is invited to explore Sycamore Street in Newtown for their needs and watch for event updates on Facebook (Facebook|Sycamore Street Community Association).

Share

Potential, Inc.

Potential, Inc., a non-profit organization located in Newtown, provides Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), speech and elementary school services and more to individuals who have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Potential, Inc. seeks to assist individuals with developmental disabilities in reaching their educational, social, and emotional potential by focusing on applying and conducting scientific research. Serving ages one through 64, Potential, Inc. is dedicated to providing high quality direct services, consultation, community outreach and education for families and professionals.

Its goal is to provide the highest quality interventions for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. They utilize current research in ABA, which includes an analysis of Verbal Behavior (VB) to improve communication, behavior, toileting, social skills and more.

Volunteer opportunities include participating in their “Make a Friend” program, assisting with administrative duties, or helping out at their annual fundraising event. This year’s event, “Auction for Autism,” will take place on Saturday, March 29th, at Spring Mill Manor in Ivyland. Proceeds benefit their clientele directly and allow them to purchase therapy supplies and improve upon their programs and services.

For the latest information, visit their website (www.potentialinc.org), call 215-579-0670, or e-mail info@potentialinc.org.

Share

Bucks County Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired

The Bucks County Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (BCABVI) is an independent non-profit organization serving the residents of Bucks County. Their vision is rich, vibrant and independent lives for all people who are blind or visually impaired.

They realize their vision applies to every potential client in a unique way. For this reason, BCABVI offers a range of services that can be customized for each specific situation. Whether it is short-term intervention or long-term support, BCABVI can offer solutions appropriate for each person’s individual needs. 

BCABVI operates two Low Vision Clinics, one in Newtown and a second in Telford, PA where patients can receive specialized Low Vision Evaluations, Assistive Technology and Low Vision Aids. In their facility located at 400 Freedom Drive in Newtown, clients can participate in Support Groups for Vision Loss, Life Skills Trainings and Social/Recreational Activities. Transportation is available. Community based services include in-home supports, free vision screenings for children and adults and educational presentations.

Most services are offered at no charge and no one is turned away based on an inability to pay.  To offset the cost of these valuable services, BCABVI operates a thriving thrift shop located at 400 Freedom Drive in Newtown.

The Thrift Shop at BCABVI is not your typical thrift store.  Donations of tax-deductible treasures become part of a boutique of gently used, high-quality items. One hundred percent of all proceeds from sales are used to support the services and programs of the association.

BCABVI also hosts a variety of events to raise needed funds.  The Third Annual Fashion Show is scheduled for Sunday, May 18th, at the Doylestown Country Club. This Casablanca inspired event features a luxurious silent auction and high end/vintage fashion. Sponsorship opportunities are now available.    

For a complete listing of services, information about the Thrift Shop or upcoming events visit BCABVI’s website at www.bucksblind.org or contact Anne Marie Hyer at 215.968.9400.

Share

Newtown siblings write high-quality literature for family entertainment

 

by June Portnoy

The McDermott siblings, Cate, Alexandra, and Don, are three young authors from Newtown, each dedicated to writing wholesome, high-quality literature for family entertainment. Although each of these siblings writes different genres, none of their books include sexual content, violence or any inappropriate language. 

“If these books were movies, they would all be rated G,” laughs Cate. “Our protagonists are tweens or teens, and our novels are targeted to the young adult market. However, parents and grandparents can also buy these books and enjoy reading them with younger children because of their respectable content.”

Because the McDermott’s father was in the military, the siblings moved a lot during their childhood, and therefore, were homeschooled from elementary school through high school by their mother. As a result, they got used to reading books aloud to one another and to their mother.

“Our hope is that our books will inspire families to begin reading out loud to each other again,” says Cate. “We are a family writing books for families.”

Cate’s love of writing began as a young child when telling stories to neighborhood kids at the military base. Ironically, she told the story that ultimately became her first book to Don and Alexandra over the period of a year before she typed a word of it.

Cate’s book, “Bernadette: Princess Under Protest,” is a royal adventure novel about Princess Bernadette who is tired of all the restrictions of her royal life. She is adamantly against accepting her upcoming arranged marriage to an unknown betrothed.

Bernadette’s father gives her one year to discover what she really wants out of life and what she wants to be. 

“The idea for this story came to me when I was 17, getting ready to go to college, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life,” says Cate, who is now 24 and writing another princess book.

Alexandra, now 21, started writing her historical novel, “My Home Grows,” when she was in her junior year in high school.

It takes place in 1885, and is about Nora Beth Douglas, a tomboy who wants to spend her summer working at her family ranch in the Colorado plains. Her mother, who wants Nora Beth to grow up to be a proper lady, insists that she visit her eastern relatives’ cottage on Nantucket Island. Nora Beth struggles to adapt to her new surroundings while remaining true to her own identity.

“I created my protagonist in a creative writing assignment I completed back in high school and then I pulled this character into my novel,” explains Alexandra.

“My Home Grows” is Alexandra’s first book in a trilogy she is currently writing.

Don never had any interest in writing, but admits to being an avid reader. “We must have close to 1,000 books at our home in Newtown,” says Don.

However, because Don and his sisters have always been so close, when he saw them writing, he thought he’d give it a try too. His sisters encouraged him every step of the way, and when he got halfway through his novel, he realized his idea would work.

Don’s book, “The Freestyle Five of the Fairview Ice Arena,” is about four modern teenage girls and their 10-year-old companion, all talented figure skaters, who become involved in a mysterious adventure.

Don admits that he based this book on five figure skaters who took lessons at the same ice rink where he once played hockey.

“I modeled my characters after these girls, placing them into my mystery,” explains Don, 18, who wrote this book when he was 16.

Although a mystery, Don quickly acknowledges that his use of humor to tell his story makes it unique from other mysteries. 

The McDermott siblings formed their own writing critique group amongst themselves, bouncing ideas off of each other throughout their novel writing process. They also edited each other’s work. Although Cate and Alexandra were each offered contracts for their books from small publishing companies, they turned them down because Don didn’t receive an offer.

“We wanted to stick together,” says Cate.

Although each of these siblings has different day jobs, they plan to continue writing their family-friendly novels together as a family.

“The name of our publishing company might be the Sibling Writery, but my sisters and I are much more than just siblings,” says Don. “We are best friends.”

To order books written by the McDermott siblings, visit www.amazon.com or www.thesiblingwritery.com.

PHOTO CAP: From left, Alexandra, Don, and Cate McDermott

Share

Sending thanks to our military heroes

 

With the holiday season upon us, young artists in Newtown have taken the time to send thanks to our troops in the form of handmade cards through the Red Cross “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program. Their individuality and thoughtfulness are evident in each and every card. 

These children understand that one of the many sacrifices our troops make is not getting to spend the holidays with their own loved ones. It is because of that sacrifice that the rest of us celebrate our holidays safe and free, which makes this an important time to remember the heroism of our troops and thank them for their service. 

Shown from left are Anna Lee, Hanna Lipski, Sarah Williamson, Connor Boucher, and Jackson Boucher.

Share