Editorial: Haiti lesson teaches students compassion

HELPING SIXTH GRADERS present a check to Peter Sensenbrenner, center right, executive director of the Fond du Lac County chapter of the American Red Cross is Jack Frank, president of the West Fond du Lac chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Among the students who helped organize the fund-raiser are, front row, from left, Kylee Murkley, Alex Hauman, Ryan Socha, Shawn Timm, Angie Burton, Leah Chapman; second row, Tyler Mathes, Fabian Ortega, Zach Neefe, Lizzie Hoch, Shae Miller, Cole Frank, Glenn Stark, Ryan Schaefer, Alexis Berndt, Claire Aither, Kendra Block; back row, Cody Suesser, Jacob Ferch, Corey Bass, Maggie Grewal, Marissa Swanke, Adrian Granados, Marissa Bunge, Jordan Rew and Kaila Keplin. Tim Lyke photo

Ripon Middle School teacher Kate Williams was helping sixth graders study Caribbean countries during a recent eighth hour.

Pairs of students presented posters of what countries they had studied with the last couple for the day talking about Haiti. “After the presentation, we discussed how Haiti was the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and other facts off the top of my head,” Williams recalled.

The bell rang and as the students filed out of class, their teacher received a news alert on her cell phone about an earthquake in Haiti measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale.

The next day, students in each of Williams’ social-studies classes began asking how they could help the devastated people from the poor Caribbean nation,...A month later, the students presented a check for $1,705.74 to the Red Cross of Fond du Lac County, which has passed it on to the International Red Cross. Here’s what became of Ripon Middle Schoolers’ coins:

$1,176.96 will provide food and water for 235 people for a day;

$341.15 will pay for 10 tents and six tarps;

$187.63 will provide diarrhea and tetanus medicine for 50 people, as well as buy 50 hygiene kits. ... — Tim Lyke

Read the entire editorial in the March 18, 2010 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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