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Olympia High School Students Headed to New Orleans
for Katrina Recovery Project
(Olympia High School, Orlando, FL) A group of fifty Olympia High School
students will spend their spring break assisting fellow students in New Orleans
get back to school in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The students are volunteering
with the Paint Rally for New Orleans Public Schools program coordinated through
Tulane University. Students will help paint and beautify schools damaged by
Katrina and the subsequent flooding.
As the news from New Orleans unfolded about the path of destruction left by
Hurricane Katrina, Olympia students mobilized as did the rest of the nation
in a search for ways to help. Stephanie Johnson-Possell, life-management skills
teacher at Olympia, initially came up with the idea of rallying the students
and staff to send school supplies to the schools in New Orleans. As the news
grew grim, school supplies seemed secondary to the basic human needs that were
going unfulfilled. The school re-focused on raising and donating thousands of
dollars to the Red Cross.
As an educator, Possell still had hopes of helping the schools get back in
session when an idea was born brainstorming with a teaching colleague, Takumi
Sato. The two teachers contemplated ways students could reach out to those in
need in the Gulf region. They arrived at the tremendous possibilities for students
to give and gain from a humanitarian aid spring break trip. Obstacles were encountered
along the way, but the school PTSA partnered with the teachers to help make
the trip possible. The pieces came together as a destination and service project
One hurdle remains. Possell and Sato would like to alleviate the cost to the
students to participate in the project. "The students are volunteering
to spend their spring break helping others. It doesn't seem right if they
have a financial burden as they are already giving so much of themselves to
go on the trip" said Sato. "The cost of transportation alone is
significant so any help we can get will go a long way."
The students will depart on Friday, March 10, 2006, for their week long experience
and stay in a FEMA Base Camp or "tent city" for volunteers once
they reach their destination. Students will have an opportunity to show their
support as did so many others when central Florida endured a violent storm season
in 2004. While their peers are on vacation, these students will work to help
New Orleans schools re-open their doors and get back to the business of learning.
The group is in need of financial and material support from community members
and businesses to cover the expense and needs of the trip. Please contact Takumi
Sato, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Stephanie Johnson-Possell,
email@example.com to discuss sponsorship
opportunities and needs.