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Science Club restores lab

Group buys equipment for hurricane-ravaged high school

Group buys equipment for hurricane-ravaged high school

December 30, 2005|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - For part of their winter break, a group of Hagerstown Community College students used money from Ramen noodles and candy bar sales to help refurbish a high school science lab ruined by Hurricane Katrina.

Six members from HCC's Science Club drove to a Mississippi school earlier this month to deliver the goods. They financed the trip using the money they raised.

Paper, a centrifuge, a lab refrigerator and hot plates are a few of the items the science club acquired for Bay High School, in Bay St. Louis, Miss., said Elaine Ashby, the club's faculty advisor.

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Bay St. Louis is about an hour outside New Orleans.

The school's lab was completely flooded, Ashby said. "Once it was restored, the school district didn't have anything to put in it," she said.

Science club member Kelly Brennan, who is from Bay St. Louis, was one of the two displaced hurricane victims to attend HCC.

Ashby said it was Brennan who thought of the idea. She said this was the first time Brennan had been back to Bay St. Louis since the storm hit.

"It was like a punch in the gut seeing the homes destroyed, seeing her look for friends who were gone," Ashby said.

Brennan could not be reached for this story.

Club members used the money they made selling junk food items throughout the year to fund the trip, said HCC spokeswoman Beth Stull. For years, hungry students have purchased food items, such as Ramen noodles and mixed nuts, from the science club.

Ashby said she used some connections she had with the National Institutes of Health, which donated science equipment.

The science club left for Bay High School on Dec. 14.

The group first drove 13 hours to Birmingham, Ala., then made another six-hour drive to Bay St. Louis. They also visited New Orleans, Ashby said.

"Instead of passing houses, we were passing scattered sections of the interstate," said science club member Mylynh Nguyen, a lab assistant at HCC, describing what she saw from the van.

Nguyen was one of the six students who went on the trip.

Science club member and former HCC lecturer Truman Boyer, who's had several close encounters with tornadoes, said he was surprised by the storm's destruction that he witnessed on the trip.

"I chase tornadoes and I've seen a lot of tornado damage that's condensed to a small area, but this stuff was every where," Boyer said.

Katie Wilson, a 25-year-old chemistry major, said she dealt with a full range of emotions during the visit.

"We were already excited to be there," Wilson said. "Then it goes down to, 'Oh, my God, these people are so lucky to still be here.'"

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