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Duchess of York Visits Inner-City School in Houston

November 7, 1989

HOUSTON (AP) _ The Duchess of York visited an inner-city school Monday, ending a five-day trip to Texas that included opera, a polo match and a stop at a private ranch.

The former Sarah Ferguson took part in an anti-drug program, and was serenaded by more than 600 students at Blackshear Elementary School.

″She seemed like royalty,″ said fifth-grader Gary Williams, 11.

The duchess, who is married to Britain’s Prince Andrew, came to Houston Thursday at the invitation of the Houston Grand Opera, which is saluting 300 years of British opera. She took a flight Monday afternoon to New York, where she planned to spend a day.

Royal-watchers who gathered outside the school Monday morning applauded her, and some shouted, ″We love you Fergie 3/8″

The duchess participated in the school’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, known as DARE, by joining students in an anti-drug play.

She also gave the school’s library autographed copies of the ″Budgie″ books for children she has written. Students presented her a book they had written.

″We thought she was very fun,″ Gary said. ″We were excited to see her. She did some sketches with us.″

The sketches involved students acting out criticism for students who are pretending to drink, smoke or use drugs.

During one sketch, the duchess showed her disgust for smoking by pulling her long red hair across her face.

″I think she was really concerned about the program,″ said Blackshear principal George Mundine. ″She was very impressed.″

The duchess then went to the school playground where students holding small U.S. and British flags were standing in a formation that spelled DARE.

″Your Royal Highness, the Duchess of York, from the boys and girls of Blackshear School, may I present to you these flowers and ask for your permission to sing?″ shouted 8-year-old Jermaine Thibodeaux, who gave the duchess a bouquet of yellow roses.

The students sang ″Deep in the Heart of Texas,″ ″Yankee Doodle Dandy,″ ″You’re a Grand Old Flag,″ ″We are the World,″ and an anti-drug song.

″You really were very good, and are very good, and you look so smart,″ the duchess said.

She thanked the students for the book, ″The Big Parade,″ and said her toddler daughter, Beatrice, would love it. The book, which is about the duchess going to the circus, was written by several students, Mundine said.

The duchess is five months pregnant with her second child.

During her stay in Houston, Sarah was the guest of the family of Oscar Wyatt, chairman of Coastal Corp. of Houston. His wife, Lynn, is vice chairman of the Houston Grand Opera.

She spent Saturday night at the Wyatts’ ranch near Hebbronville, but stayed the rest of the time at their mansion. The duchess attended a polo match Sunday, where Great Britain defeated a Texas team, 11-6. Her father, Maj. Ronald Ferguson, captained the British team and she stood in the rain to present trophies to the victors.

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