A newly initiated grass-roots effort known as “Reaching For The Stars” to promote education of young people and keep community schools open is scheduled to kick off at 5:30 p.m. today with a gathering beneath a maple tree featuring more than 2,000 white mini-lights and illuminated stars at 3996 Andrews Road in Ransomville.

Children and their parents from different school districts, veterans, members of the Ransomville Volunteer Fire Company, elected officials and other citizens in the community are set to attend the event, which is being held outside the residence of Ruth Anne Buzzard, who organized the initiative.

She said that recent talk of possibly closing Ransomville’s W.H. Stevenson Elementary School, part of the Wilson Central School District, prompted her to take a public stand that she hopes will be the start of a national effort to save schools.

“Schools across America are closing at an alarming rate and they are the center of most communities. America is built community by community,” Buzzard said. “If you shut down a school, young people will not move in. There goes the volunteer fire department, potentially local businesses and property values will decline.”

Buzzard added, “We do not need any more decay in Niagara County.”

At today’s gathering, a soloist will sing “America the Beautiful,” first responders and veterans will be formally thanked for their service and schoolchildren will be given the chance to “express, one by one, what their dreams are in life,” Buzzard said.

Coffee, hot chocolate and doughnuts will be provided by the Dunkin’ Donuts location in Ransomville.

“We are urging anyone interested to join us under the tree,” Buzzard said. “What more positive way than to express our love for our school, community and country with young voices lifted in song?”