Winfrey celebrates 1st graduates

Posted Jan. 13, 2012, at 9:06 p.m.

Oprah Winfrey makes no apologies for spending millions on an elite school for underprivileged South African girls. But she’s also looking for ways to make her money stretch further to help more struggling Africans. Winfrey spoke Friday on the eve of the first graduation at her school. Of the 75 students who started at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in 2007, 72 who will graduate Saturday. All are headed to universities in South Africa and the United States to pursue such studies as medicine, law, engineering and economics. South Africa is struggling to overcome the inequalities of apartheid, which ended in 1994. The country has too few schools at all levels, and many lack such basics as libraries and are staffed by undereducated teachers. Winfrey said she would be working with established philanthropies to identify schools around the developing world that can be strengthened with money. … They called it “random dancing,” but First Lady Michelle Obama broke out some moves that resembled subdued variations of “the Monkey” or “the Jerk” Friday during an appearance at a northern Virginia high school. A screaming, raucous auditorium filled with elementary and middle school students greeted Obama and the cast of the Nickelodeon TV show “iCarly” at Hayfield Secondary School in Fairfax County. The appearance promoted an upcoming episode featuring Obama in which she thanks military families for their sacrifices. On the show, star Miranda Cosgrove plays the daughter of an Air Force colonel deployed overseas. A staple of the show is a segment of random dancing, which Obama performed both in the episode that premieres Monday and on stage Friday. Obama’s dance moves drew plaudits from the “iCarly” cast. Her acting skills also drew praise. The cast was impressed with Obama’s ability to deliver her lines in the compressed time they had to shoot the scenes. Obama said she watches the show with her daughters, and wanted to appear because it dovetails with her campaign to support and recognize military families. … Ex-presidential candidate John Edwards has a life-threatening heart condition that will require surgery next month, his doctor told a judge presiding over Edwards’ upcoming court case over possible campaign violations. A cardiologist for the 58-year-old ex-North Carolina Senator wrote two letters about his condition to Judge Catherine Eagles who talked about them Friday during a hearing to consider whether the trial would go on later this month. She delayed it until at least March 26. Edwards walked into the courtroom in Greensboro without assistance and appeared healthy. The judge requested that he be there. The judge did not give any more details about what sort of surgery or what illness Edwards may have. The doctor also wrote that Edwards should avoid driving and travel, including to the court proceedings. Prosecutors had said they were ready to try Edwards on six felony and misdemeanor counts related to nearly $1 million from wealthy donors used to help hide his pregnant mistress during his 2008 White House run.

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