New Ugandan School Honors Memory of Late Bucks County Teen

Maria Middleton in UgandaMaria Middleton made a lasting impression on the Ugandan community during her visit in October 2019, just nine months after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at the age of 16. /Submitted Image

PHILADELPHIA, PA — On February 22, 2024, a new elementary school opened its doors in the Adjumami District of Uganda, commemorating the life and legacy of Maria Middleton, a beloved teen from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The Maria Middleton Sodogo Primary School stands as a testament to her enduring impact and the connections she made during her short but meaningful life.

Maria Middleton touched the hearts of the Ugandan community during her visit in October 2019. Diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at age 16, her story spread globally, inspiring many, including the staff and students in Uganda, who prayed fervently for her recovery.

Fr. Joseph, the school’s founder, reached out to Maria’s parents, Brian and Susan Middleton, offering support and prayers. This global wave of compassion moved Maria and her family to travel to Uganda, bringing donations from Bucks County school communities.

In her final months, Maria’s faith never wavered. Her last words, “Think Hope,” encapsulated her belief in God and her life’s mission. “No matter the circumstances of my life, my mission and purpose remain the same,” Maria said. “My emotions will rise and fall, but my faith is not an emotion; it is a commitment, and I will not despair.”

Maria passed away on October 8, 2020, leaving a profound legacy of hope and inspiration. To honor her memory, the Think Hope Foundation was established, dedicated to “unleashing the power of hope, one person at a time, through educational and outreach ministries.”

The foundation supports various initiatives, including the Regina Academy at St. John the Baptist, where Maria was a student. The academy celebrates the opening of its sister school, the Maria Middleton Sodogo Primary School, as a new beacon of education and faith in Uganda.

Maria’s academic and spiritual excellence shone brightly at Regina Academy at St. John the Baptist in Ottsville, Pennsylvania, where she graduated in 2017 with numerous awards, including the Parish Award, Highest Average Award, and the Knights of Columbus First Place Essay Contest. Known for her academic talents, dance skills, and deep spirituality, Maria was a leader among her peers and adults alike.

Continuing her education at Villa Joseph Marie High School, Maria served as Junior Class President and participated in several clubs, including the Community Service Corps and Diamond Key Club. She received the Widener University High School Leadership Award and was a member of the National Honor Society. Maria’s dedication to helping others was evident in her involvement in initiatives like the Mother of Mercy House Annual Coat Drive and Building a Bridge to Uganda. Despite her many accomplishments, Maria treasured her time with family and friends above all.

The opening of the Maria Middleton Sodogo Primary School highlights the far-reaching impact of Maria’s life and legacy. By providing free education to children in Uganda, the school embodies Maria’s spirit of hope and commitment to making a positive difference in the world.

This initiative also serves as a reminder of the power of global connections and the lasting influence individuals can have across continents. The school’s establishment reflects the shared values of education, faith, and community support that Maria championed throughout her life.

As the new school year begins, the Maria Middleton Sodogo Primary School stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration, ensuring that Maria’s legacy continues to touch lives and foster a brighter future for children in Uganda.

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