Greencastle-Antrim students help storm-ravaged school in Florida

November 11, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

GREENCASTLE, PA. - A construction paper tree in a corner of the Greencastle-Antrim Middle School lobby has lost a lot of its leaves in the past few days, and Student Council officers hope it will soon lose them all.

Each paper leaf on The Giving Tree is marked with a dollar amount and a school supply such as folders, paper, pencils or crayons. Several are marked simply "Backpack."

Taken together, the items on the leaves comprise the list of supplies needed by Warrington Middle School in Pensacola, Fla., which was badly damaged by Hurricane Ivan on Sept. 16.


"Mrs. (Linda) Lewis wanted to do a fund-raiser for a school in Florida," said Rachel Statler, student council president. "And Mrs. Saylor had the idea for the tree." Lewis is principal at the middle school, Kelly Saylor is seventh-grade language arts teacher and Student Council advisor.

At the Greencastle school's request, Warrington sent a list of the things they need, said Erica Marshall, secretary of the student council.

"We took the total cost and divided it up among the leaves," Statler added. "If all the leaves are taken, we'll have enough for everything on the list."

The 650 students in grades six through eight at Greencastle are invited to pick a leaf off The Giving Tree and bring in the amount of money written on it.

"However they can get the money, they can just donate it," said seventh-grader Martin Alvarez, vice president.

The students are participating, said Marshall, 13. At the donor's discretion, monetary donations are placed in one of several jars marked with the names of Greencastle-Antrim Middle School teachers.

"The one whose jar has the most money at the end of the fund drive will get a pie in the face," Marshall added. "This is to inspire more people to donate."

The students came up with the pie-in-the-face incentive, Statler said, which appears to be working. Treasurer Andrew Allshouse, 13, said, "there's a good bit of money in the jars already."

Joe Thomas, assistant principal at Warrington Middle School, said his 830-student school is "up and running," although the buildings still need repair.

"All the schools in the county were damaged," he said. "We lost roofs from four or five buildings."

Eighty to 85 of Thomas' students were displaced from their homes and had to move in with other family members, he said.

The students know about the assistance that will come from the Greencastle students, Thomas said. "They are really excited to know that when you're in need that there is someone there to help you."

"The students were poor to begin with, then the hurricane destroyed things," Allshouse said.

Why do they want to help out kids who live a thousand miles away, whom they don't know and probably will never meet?

"They had a lot of misfortune with the weather," Allshouse said. "We usually don't get affected (by hurricanes) except for rain, and we felt like we'd be helping out if we help them."

Alvarez added, "because they don't have anything at their school. Maybe this idea (of helping them) will catch on at other schools."

"If you would lose a home, the families around you and your friends would help you out," Marshall said. "Even if we don't know them, it's like we're best friends with them. Everyone needs to work together."

"If we got hit by a hurricane I would want another school to help us get back on our feet," Statler added. "What goes around comes around."

She noted that the project ties in with the Character Counts curriculum they have been learning since primary school; two of the principles are Caring and Citizenship.

Saylor said her input into the project is minimal. "They're doing it themselves," she said.

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