Students reach out to hurricane victims

Park Terrace Elementary School students are living up to the school’s designation as an International Peace Site.

Park Terrace students Levi Parrish and Aubreah Beck help sort school supplies donated to students in Public School No. 317 in Far Rockaway, N.Y. Hurricane Sandy devastated the area. Photo by Elyse Kaner

Park Terrace students Levi Parrish and Aubreah Beck help sort school supplies donated to students in Public School No. 317 in Far Rockaway, N.Y. Hurricane Sandy devastated the area. Photo by Elyse Kaner

Last week, the day before Thanksgiving found the K-3 students busy sorting and packing donations for a school in New York hit by Hurricane Sandy.

“It’s a good lesson on reaching out to others,” said Lynda Bergeron, first-grade teacher who came up with the idea.

Bergeron wondered how Park Terrace students could help in the aftermath of the storm.

Through networking, Erika Nelson, a friend of Bergeron’s and former District 16 volunteer now living in New York, researched schools in need. She came up with Public School No. 317 in Far Rockaway, N.Y.

The entire neighborhood was devastated by Sandy when the super storm hit in October, according to Bergeron.

So Bergeron spearheaded a drive at Park Terrace to collect hats, mittens and school supplies to send out East to the elementary school.

Barrels of donations came rolling in from students’ families. Teachers donated as well.

Park Terrace kindergartners and first-graders sorted the clothes and supplies in the school library, while the second- and third-graders packed them into boxes.

Last year Park Terrace was designated as an International Peace Site. The Hurricane Sandy donations drive fits tidily into a peace action, one of the missions of being a peace site – to reach out to the community and the world at large.

“When the children heard about the hurricane, they wanted to do something to show we cared,” Bergeron said.

In addition to students’ receiving the hats, mittens and supplies, Park Terrace staff members sent gift cards to staff at Public School No. 317 to use at their own discretion.

In an attempt to get the word out, Park Terrace students added technology to their service project.

Third-graders created an iMovie on an iPad to spread awareness.

Also, using Google Earth, they saw the location of the New York school, soon to be the recipient of their good deeds.

“The kids are really excited,” said Diane Clements, technology coach at Park Terrace. “It was fun to add that tech piece.”

The children also staged a newscast, decorated donations bins and created cards letting the students out East know they were thinking of them.

“I thought it was an amazing opportunity,” Bergeron said. “They hear about world events and they actually have an impact on solving a problem.”

Being designated an International Peace Site involves taking five peace action steps. They are: seek peace within ourselves, be responsible citizens of the world, promote intercultural understanding and celebrate diversity, reach out in service and protect the environment.

The Hurricane Sandy service project let kids know they can help other kids in a time of need in their lives, said teacher Lynnette Tewalt.

“It helps them be more aware globally,” she said.

Elyse Kaner is at elyse.kaner@ecm-inc.com

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