||Volume 17, Number 5, March 2005 |
by Lynda Bird
Upon returning from Christmas break, I asked my Grade 4/5 class what interesting and important things they had experienced or learned about on their vacation. Naturally, they shared the usual excitement about Christmas and Santa Claus, getting together with family and so on. After we enjoyed some anecdotes on that theme, I asked them what important world events had happened. Hands went up, and a number of children mentioned learning about the tsunami in Southern Asia via TV, newspapers, and radio.
We discussed the terrible effects that natural disaster was having on people, families, businesses, government, etc. We discussed how lucky we are to live in the East Kootenays with comparatively tiny problems.
The next day, a girl in my class talked about what she had heard on the radio that morning. She said she had heard a teacher from Cranbrook issue a challenge to all schools in our district to raise money to help people suffering from the tsunami.
We discussed what the students thought we should do. Everybody agreed that we should contribute money. I asked the class from what source the money should come. Should they go home and ask their parents for a donation? Would that have any meaning to them? One of the boys suggested that the money they contribute should be their own. I asked how many of them get allowances. Very few do. So I asked them, "If you don’t have an allowance, how can you give your own money?" Many hands flew up. Maybe they could do extra chores to earn the money, maybe they could donate some money they had received as gifts, and so on. We all agreed that they were great ideas.
I then asked if, besides the monetary donation, they would like to do something as a class to try to help the children of the countries hit by the tsunami know that other children care. The students suggested that we make a huge card. On the cover would be a wall of bricks of hope. On the inside, we would include an outline of all the students’ hands in rainbow colours. We would all sign our names and include a picture of our class. On the back would be a huge smiley face. We would also include students’ poems about the tsunami.
I eagerly told our acting principal about my class’s idea. He thought it a wonderful idea. He consulted with the principal of Isabella Dicken Elementary School, also in Fernie. Coincidentally, and almost simultaneously, two girls at that school had had a very similar idea about collecting donations. For the next 10 days, both schools collected money from students, their parents, teachers, support staff, and administrators.
On January 20, we had a combined assembly in our gym, at Max Turyk Elementary School. Our acting principal, Mr. Smith, had made a computer slide show about the children in our schools and the children in the countries hit by the tsunami. After the slide show, we turned our attention to the children whose idea this had been. On the table beside them were rolls and rolls of coins collected by the two schools. Mr. Smith had invited Cindy Pace, a Red Cross volunteer, to accept a cheque for all the donations. In 10 days, our two schools had gathered almost $1,500. With the matching funds from the federal government, the total was nearly $3,000! Pace said she was overwhelmed at the generosity of the two elementary schools. The money will help to feed and clothe families and also help in the rebuilding efforts of schools, hospitals, etc.
I am proud and blessed to be part of such a wonderful school.
Lynda M. Bird teaches at Max Turyk Elementary School, Fernie.