Chaparral High School students, teacher collect school supplies for Hurricane Harvey victims

From left to right: students Andrea Deaconn, Sonika Sethi, Cindy Tsai and Walid Krifah were among a group of students who collected such items as backpacks, pens and binders for students in Rockport, Texas, who were affected by Hurricane Harvey. Alex Groves photo

Chaparral High School teacher Susan Meyers frequents a Facebook group for AP U.S. History teachers and it was there she learned of the damage Hurricane Harvey caused to a high school in Rockport, Texas: The roof was torn off the library, the gym was destroyed and classrooms were heavily damaged.

“This is my 18th year of teaching,” she said. “I can only imagine if I lost everything in my classroom how hard it would be to start over, so it made me really want to reach out and say, ‘I want to do something for them.’”

Meyers and students who are part of the Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society at the school have been working to collect items for high school students in Rockport, including pens, pencils, notebooks, binders and other supplies.

More than 10 boxes of supplies took up about a tenth of the floorspace in Meyers’ classroom Thursday afternoon. She said she was planning on shipping out the items soon with a loan provided by the school.

Students who helped procure supplies gathered in Meyers’ classroom and discussed why they decided to be a part of the project and what they took away from it.

Andra Deaconn, 17, said that growing up in California has meant that she’s never had to worry about a hurricane or the damage it may cause, but seeing pictures of Harvey’s devastation made her think about storms in a way she hadn’t before.

“I was just in shock because everything was completely destroyed,” Deaconn said. “Most people don’t like to go to school, but I was thinking … if everything was destroyed how that would affect my academic career and I just felt really sad.”

Cindy Tsai, 17, said telling people about the club’s efforts was what she most enjoyed.

“I think it was really cool just to explain to the community what exactly we’re doing,” Tsai said. “What they can donate and the impact they’re making. I think that was really just the best part because you can really touch people’s hearts that way.”

Among the ways students got the word out was social media and also by passing out flyers, senior Walid Krifah, 17, said.

“It’s a necessity, especially going into the real world, to be able to talk to people and everything,” Krifah said. “So, I find that very fulfilling that I’m already practicing that skill now. That will help me for the future.”

Sonika Sethi, 17, said sometimes it may seem daunting to help during times of disaster, but it actually is not.

“When people are in need of things, it’s not too hard to just donate a couple things to help a cause,” she said. “It’s really easy and it’s a good thing to do for people, especially when they’re struggling.”

Meyers said she had a tough time finding a way to ship the items, but will finally be able to ship at least part of what’s been collected thanks to a loan from the school’s Associated Student Body. She will need to find a way to pay the organization back.

Meyers said it was important to be able to send the donations off as soon as possible.

“In many cases, these teachers lost everything in their rooms, but they also lost their homes, these kids lost their homes,” she said. “So, it was really important we get them the supplies.”

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