BANGOR, Maine — In spite of a childhood filled with the devastating illness of her mother and the loss of several loved ones — including her brother — Sydney McDonald, a seventh-grader at the William S. Cohen School in Bangor, has kept her cool.
Her ability to function with grace under personal adversity has led her to excel scholastically to such a degree that recently she was selected as the winner in the Maine History Day competition, making her eligible to take part in the National History Day finals June 10-14 in Maryland.
Sydney’s mother, Camille Morrison, whose illness has left her with disabilities including impaired eyesight and chronic pain, is reaching out to the community. The family, she said, does not have the means to pay the $100 entry fee and other costs of the trip. Time is of the essence since the deadline for registration and trip payment is May 15. The fundraising goal is $2,100, but if additional funds are acquired they would be used to create a fund to aid other students in need of traveling expenses, Morrison said.
“Through all of our hardship she has continued to get straight A’s,” said Morrison of her daughter. “She’s my blessing.”
Sydney won the competition for a website she designed, 96759124.nhd.weebly.com, that focuses on cellphone technology.
Sydney consistently has been an honor roll student. She was selected for the school gifted and talented program three times. She has received the High Honors Academic Award at the Cohen School and achieved the highest levels in various academic testing. She also has taken accelerated courses since she was in third grade, maintaining high honors standing. She is an active member of her school’s student body and volunteers in the community. Her goal is to attend Harvard or MIT, her mother said.
Sydney’s kind heart once led her to save a German Shepherd dog that had been struck by a car on Essex Street on a cold winter day. Sydney took off her coat, put it around the dog and stayed with the canine until police located its owners.
“I think she could win. She has put every bit of effort into it. I think she has a great chance of winning,” Morrison said.
Those who wish to donate funds for Syndey’s trip may send payment to: Camille Morrison, 419 Essex St., Bangor ME 04401 or pay via Paypal by going to Paypal.com, clicking on Personal Payment and sending to firstname.lastname@example.org. For information, call Morrison at 207-974-8429.