Hopewell Valley Regional School District

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Bear Tavern Students Present Couple with Anniversary Surprise

At their last visit to Bear Tavern, the Caldwells shared a story about their honeymoon. As a newly married couple in 1957, they drove from North Carolina to the Mount Airy Lodge in the Pennsylvania Poconos for their honeymoon. Once they arrived, they were turned away by the lodge due to their race.


The story resonated with the students, and 5th graders in Christina Virtucio’s class decided to take action. They researched the Mount Airy Lodge and discovered that it had closed years ago, but that a new resort, the Mount Airy Casino Resort, had opened. Located in the same area, the new hotel had no connection to the lodge that had turned the Caldwells away. The students in Mrs. Virtucio’s class wrote letters to the Mount Airy Casino Resort, sharing the Caldwells story and urging the resort to right the wrong from 60 years ago. One letter caught the attention of Matthew Magda, the vice president of operations. He was moved by the story and decided to take action. Mr. Magda offered the Caldwells a complimentary weekend stay at the resort, including a suite, complimentary transportation, prepaid meals and more, all to celebrate their 60th anniversary in November.


Bear Tavern held a special school-wide assembly on May 19, telling the Caldwells that they were invited for a year-end celebration of previous speakers. At the assembly, the students in Mrs. Virtucio’s class presented the letters they had written and the response from Mr. Magda. Included with his letter, Mr. Magda gifted the couple with Mount Airy Casino hats, an overnight bag, fleeces and more. The Caldwells were visibly moved by the offer from Mr. Magda and the work the students put in by writing the letters. The students recognized that while they couldn’t erase the injustice from the past, they could make a difference in the present and honor the Caldwells with a deserving anniversary celebration.


“Our students continue to amaze me with their ideas and their actions. And our staff works tirelessly to provide students with opportunities to explore, create, collaborate and make a difference.” said Principal Chris Turnbull.