A 17-year-old Frontenac girl currently is biking her way across the country to help raise tuition money for local schoolchildren. ELLIE TOWLE left with a group of eight from Charleston, South Carolina, on June 26 in hopes of raising a significant amount of money for the Tuition Assistance Fund at UNIVERSITY CITY CHILDREN’S CENTER, where half of the students quality for financial aid. Ellie is already more than halfway through her goal: Before her trip, she had already received more than $25,000 in pledges. During her trek, youngsters in UCCC’s Shooting Stars classroom are charting her journey on a detailed map. Ellie, who attends The Principia, plans to end her 3,000-mile journey in San Diego on Aug. 4.

A Clayton elementary school teacher is headed to Washington this week to participate in a national education program at the Library of Congress. TOM BOBER, a teacher at Ralph M. Captain elementary school, was chosen from more than 400 applicants nationwide to join the five-day program. Beginning July 14, Bober and others will work with specialists to learn effective practices for using primary sources in the classroom, while exploring some of the millions of digitized historical artifacts and documents (such as Alexander Graham Bell’s letters) at the Library.

It’s been a busy past couple of weeks for local universities. On July 1, FRED PESTELLO spoke to more than 300 members of the class of 2018 and their families during an orientation luncheon in his first appearance as the new SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY president. Pestello, who most recently served as president of Le Moyne College, is the first permanent lay president in the university’s 196-year history.

FONTBONNE UNIVERSITY also has a new leader: J. MICHAEL PRESSIMONE began his tenure July 1, kicking off his first day in office with a campus-wide reception. Pressimone previously served as the VP for advancement at Alvernia University. His inauguration ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 14.

OPERA THEATRE OF SAINT LOUIS (OTSL) has wrapped up its season on a very high note: Its recent season generated a 5.8-percent increase in box-office revenue from the previous year, as well as an 8.4-percent increase in both subscription revenue and attendance. A few records attendance records were also set, including for The Magic Flute, which attracted more single-ticket buyers than any OTSL production in the last 10 years. In addition, OTSL has announced the creation of THE STEWARD FAMILY FOUNDATION’s ‘Thelma Steward Endowed Artist’ which will honor an artist of color each season. The first artist to the recognized is FREDERICK BALLENTINE, who appeared this season in The Magic Flute.

Former St. Louisan MARY ANN ROTHBERG is returning to her hometown this week to showcase two award-winning documentary shorts she co-created and co-produced. Rothberg, a 1978 alum of Clayton H.S., is the co-founder of New York City-based Provenance Productions, which produced the films, Do Not Duplicate and Half Sour. Both films, which offer glimpses into the lives of New Yorkers who have forged unique paths to success, will be screened at Cinema St. Louis’ Filmmakers Showcase on Monday, July 14, at the Tivoli.

Congratulations to the PEABODY OPERA HOUSE, recently recognized as one of the Best Wedding Venues in America by Brides magazine. The survey results, compiled from a poll of wedding planners from across the country, lists the Peabody as one of the top venues in the Midwest—the only venue in St. Louis to make the magazine’s 2014 list.

Calling all LN families! Our Across the Generations photo gallery is just around the corner. We are looking for pictures of great-grandparents and their kin to feature in our July 18 edition. Send us a recent photo, along with names and contact information, by Friday, July 11. We’ll publish as many photos that include ‘greats’ as space allows. Email your submission (at least 1MB in size) to Julia Christensen at jchristensen@laduenews.com.