There’s a motto at the Beethoven/Ohrenberger Schools’ K-8 program that the students and staff take seriously: “Work hard, show respect, and be responsible.”
This month, several students took it upon themselves to ask the principal if they could raise money for Hurricane Sandy victims and earn a “dress-down day” in return. In the past, students at the two schools, partnered in a K-8 program, have raised money for earthquake victims in Haiti and tsunami survivors in Japan and earned a day off from wearing uniforms for their efforts. Now, they wanted to do the same for storm victims closer to home.
“We have a tradition and history of coming together to raise money for crisis situations,” said Naomi Krakow, vice principal of the Ohrenberger School. “We teach the children that responsibility means becoming a part of the greater community. It means more than just remembering to bring a pencil to class.”
Krakow said the Sandy fund-raiser started with a phone call from a parent, and then “kids started asking about starting one the next day.” The school raised more than $1,600 that will be donated to the Red Cross.
Students who participated in the fund-raiser said the rewards of helping others extended far beyond the dress-down day.
“I feel proud of myself when I donate,” said Maya Rodrigues, a sixth-grader. “I think everyone does. I don’t want to see people suffer.”
“A couple of years back, we saw the hurricane victims and the horrible things they went through,” said sixth-grader William Colleran. “We decided to donate to the victims. The whole school came together as a group. We did it during the tsunami, and when there was a fire and one of our classmate’s houses burned down.”
“We work as a community to help for the good of all,” added Malacai Morris, also in sixth grade. “I think you can have strength and courage and use them to make the world a better place.”
Haley Maziarz, another sixth-grader, said she hoped the school’s contribution, while relatively small, would “make a big difference.” She said donating satisfied a desire to reach out to the wider world.
“When people donate, it feels good for those people to have a weight lifted off of their shoulders,” she said.
Norah Bergman, a fifth-grader, described the students’ efforts as supports put around a tree’s base to keep it from falling.
“I live across the street from some trees,” she said. “One fell down, and then men came around and put in reinforcements. It feels like we’re doing something like that.”
This article was reported and written under the supervision of Northeastern University journalism instructor Lisa Chedekel, as part of collaboration between The Boston Globe and Northeastern.