Students learn from sad events
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 3, 2005 1:45 PM
Sad events can sometimes turn into moments when teachers can help students learn about their world.
In the Wayne County public schools, the December tsunami that killed thousands of people in Asia sparked a wave of compassion as students found ways to lend support.
Schools officials say over the last couple of months, staff, students and parents have contributed in a variety of ways to not only the tsunami relief effort, but to others in need, as well.
A popular fundraiser begun at Meadow Lane Elementary School several years ago became a way to teach children about giving. Students made and sold Valentines and parents made treat bags. The one-day sale raised $1,500.
Teacher Jenny Heim said the story of the tsunami and the world-wide response it elicited has helped teach students that there are real needs in a community and things they can do to help.
"There was a feeling of pride in their work," she said. "It was much more of a satisfaction than they thought it would be."
Other events, closer to home, have also given students a sense of responsibility, school officials say. During a presentation on Wednesday, $500 checks each were presented to the American Red Cross for tsunami relief, the Shriners Burn Center in honor of a Meadow Lane student who suffered severe burns before moving to this country, and the Goldsboro School of Ballet, where a scholarship was established in the name of Avery Hackett, a first-grade student at Meadow Lane who died in December.
Principal Celia James said she was amazed at the lessons she saw being taught in the classrooms that were connected to the giving project.
"When you read about this years from now, you will truly know that you have made a difference in the lives of many, many people," she told the students.
At Carver Heights Elementary School, more than $900 was raised in a "Compassion Coin Drive" held in January and February. Staff members Carla Johnson, Rose Hinnant and Mary McEachern led the effort.
The money was donated to the American Red Cross Tsunami Relief Fund.
Angelique Pope, a kindergarten student in Ms. Johnson's class, emptied her piggy bank for the cause. She also drew pictures and wrote about her hope that the donation would help finance the rebuilding of roads, hospitals and other structures in Indonesia affected by the tidal wave.
At Norwayne Middle School, students were challenged to make contributions to the American Red Cross.
More than a dozen clubs at Eastern Wayne High School, including the National Honor Society, Key Club, Junior ROTC, Future Business Leaders of America, and DECA, an association of marketing students, as well as the swimming and cross country teams and several homerooms, raised $2,010 for the Red Cross.
Rosewood High School students collected $325 toward relief efforts.
Spring Creek High School continues the effort, selling wristbands that say, "Rebuild, Renew, Relief."
A "Change for Change" campaign took place at Northeast Elementary, sponsored by the student council and administrators. Each day during the drive, students put coins into a jar for their grade level. A total of $1,000 was raised for the American Red Cross.
Gail Richards, principal, called Northeast a school full of compassionate students and staff who wanted and needed to help victims of the tragedy.
"I was so proud of my students and staff for putting others before themselves in the way they did," she said. "We all came together for people we didn't even know. My students and staff are the best."
Rosewood Elementary School celebrated its 100th day of school at the end of January by encouraging first graders to bring in 100 pennies.
Greenwood Middle School held a variation on the penny theme. In their "Pennies for a Purpose" effort, the Student Government Association set out to collect a penny for each person whose life was lost in the tsunami. They raised $1,130.
Chuck Waller, director of American Red Cross in Wayne County, has made the rounds recently accepting checks that have come in for the tsunami relief. While at Meadow Lane for that purpose this week, he shared a quote attributed to acclaimed former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.
"'It can never be a perfect day until you do something for someone who will never, ever be able to repay you,'" Waller said.
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