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Miracle on 95th Street: The Virginia O'Hanlon Scholarship

Janet Rotter

Yes, Virginia, your legacy continues.

At a moving event on Friday evening, December 4, honoring the life and legacy of Virginia O’Hanlon, Janet C. Rotter, Head of School, announced the establishment of the Virginia O’Hanlon Scholarship, speaking passionately about The Studio School’s commitment to offering need-based scholarships for students of merit.

A large gathering, including three generations of the O’Hanlon family, attended the ceremony dedicating an historic plaque in Virginia’s name. After all, it was here, in 1897, that 8-year-old Virginia wrote her famous letter to The New York Sun, asking, “ Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?” Her question inspired Editor, Francis Pharcellus Church, to respond with one of the most renowned editorials in American History that contains the oft repeated words affirming, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

Virginia O’Hanlon became a teacher, a principal, and an advocate for the rights of all children, regardless of social background, to have the same educational opportunities. In an eloquent tribute, one of Virginia O’Hanlon’s granddaughters observed that “A full circle has been completed and [my grandmother’s] life’s work continues. Virginia would be so very pleased.”



The New York Times, New York Post and the Examiner have reported on the December 2009 announcement of the Virginia O'Hanlon Scholarship:

"Dear Virginia, NYC schoolkids of today answer girl’s famous 1897 Santa letter" New York Post, December 2009
"Yes, Virginia, the Studio School in NYC does offer scholarships" The Examiner, December 2009
"Yes, Virginia, There Is a Scholarship" New York Times, December 2009

"Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus" Janet C. Rotter's blog on the Huffington Post, December 2009

Here are some more articles about the story of Virginia O'Hanlon, her famous letter, and the house on West 95th Street:

"The Child and the Paper Are Long Gone, but Their Exchange on Faith Lives On" New York Times, December 2008
"Yes, New York, There Was a Virginia" New York Times, December 2004
"Virginia O'Hanlon's Home To Be Turned Into School" New York Sun, December 2005 (PDF)
"Yes, Virginia, a Thousand Times Yes" New York Times, September 1997
"Where Virginia Prompted That Immortal Editorial" New York Times, December 1993
"Yes Virginia, your house still stands" New York Times, December 1989 (PDF)


For more information about supporting the Virginia O’Hanlon Scholarship Fund, please contact:
Janet C. Rotter, Head of School







The Studio School   117 West 95th Street   New York, NY 10025   212.678.2416