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Students receive award for schooling Conyers

Susan Notes:

13-year-old girl who boldly told councilwoman to act her age shows off media savvy by refusing to comment further.

Go to the url below and you can see and hear this remarkable 13-year-old.

by Charlie LeDuff

DETROIT -- Nine children from Courtis Elementary School were given the Spirit of Detroit award Thursday, ostensibly for giving Monica Conyers, the City Council president pro tem, a lesson in civics and civility.

By now, much of the region has heard about it: Kierra Bell, 13, berating Conyers for name-calling and screaming in her capacity as a representative of the city when she called bald council President Kenneth Cockrel Jr. "Shrek" during hearings last month.

That's what second-graders do," Bell told Conyers during a question-and-answer session arranged by The Detroit News and videotaped for detnews.com. "You're an adult. You have to think before you act."

Humbled, Conyers called the children to city hall to give them the award, apparently in admiration of their chutzpah.

As for Bell, she has become something of a media darling, a 15-minute breath of fresh air and a symbol of hope for tomorrow's leadership. Since her dressing-down of the councilwoman, she has appeared on television and radio. Perfect strangers in city hall slapped her on the back and hugged her warmly, telling Bell to "keep it real" and "always be you." The girl seemed shy and discombobulated by the attention.

After meeting privately with Conyers, Bell and the other youngsters walked into the lobby, where men in expensive suits were whispering.

Bell said she had learned from the experience: "You should mind your P's and Q's all the time because you never know when the media is going to pop up."

Clearly, Bell is advanced beyond her years. She knew that probably nobody would be calling her next week for her opinion. She knew that there would be no scholarship offers most likely, either.

Then Sam Riddle, the omnipresent consultant to Conyers, had a question for the precocious teen. "Do you think Councilwoman Conyers has learned anything from this in terms maybe of being a better person, in terms of how she treats people?"

Bell replied with a newfound savvy. "Um, can I have somebody else answer that question, please?"

As she was about to enter the elevator and return to the obscurity of her childhood, she spun around and said this: "Can I make one more statement, please? Now since I know that you like our school and our students are very intelligent, I hope our school won't be on the closing list anymore. Thank you."

And with that she was gone.

— Charlie LeDuff
Detroit News



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