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Gouzounis earns Ubora Award

SPRINGFIELD Allyson Gouzounis has been selected to receive the 17th annual Ubora Award from the African Hall Subcommittee of the Springfield Museums. The award will be presented at a ceremony on Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Museum of Fine Arts. The presentation will be followed by a reception at the Springfield Science Museum across the Quadrangle. The Ubora Award, which means "excellence" in Swahili, is presented to an African-American who has made a significant contribution to the Greater Springfield area. Gouzounis has dedicated her life to children. Early in her career she supervised the successful Chapter I Toddler Home Program for 10 years and then became a teacher and administrator in the Springfield Public Schools for over 30 years before retiring in 2004. In 2005, she and her husband began "Over the Top: The Ballroom Dance Project" for fifth graders. They now go to seven schools during the school year to teach the children ballroom dances. Gouzounis said that by participating in Over the Top, "the children have learned not only how to dance, but have also gained self confidence, learned to be risk-takers and to work together as a team, and most importantly to show kindness and respect for one another." Some of her young dance students will perform during the Ubora Award ceremony. Gouzounis was the first black student to graduate from MacDuffie School in Springfield. She was then awarded a four-year scholarship from the Hampton Institute in Virginia and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in early childhood education. She went on to earn a master's degree in special education from American International College and a second master's degree in social work from Springfield College. In addition to the ballroom dance program, she volunteers for a number of community organizations which serve children and families. The Springfield Museums are located on the Quadrangle at 21 Edwards St. in Springfield. Free, secure parking is available in the museum lots on Edwards Street. Admission to the Ubora Award ceremony is $15 per person. For information or advance reservations, call 263-6800 ext. 325.

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