By: Anne Andrews, Head of Middle School and Cynthia Barry, Director of Communications
In both French and English, Pere Jean Lenord Quatorze from La Resurrection Parish and School in Gros Morne, Haiti, thanked students of St. Martin’s-in-the-Field Day School for their support and prayers when he visited the Severna Park, Maryland, nursery- through-8th-grade school in October 2010.
“Our connection with Haiti awakens our students to the interconnectedness of our global world today,” said Anne Andrews, Head of Middle School, “and our ties to La Resurrection connect people to people.”
St. Martin’s Episcopal Day School and Parish has had a sister relationship with La Resurrection, about 80 miles north of Port-au-Prince, for more than 20 years.
That relationship became stronger in the last three or four years and intensified after the earthquake that struck Haiti in January, 2010.
As it happened, a group from St. Martin’s, including two middle school students and other members of the church and school, was scheduled to fly to Port-au-Prince on January 13, 2010 with educational materials and funds. The earthquake struck on January 12 and their flight did not depart.
Now in January, 2011—a year later—two middle school students, Charlotte Kurtz, an 8th-grade student who would have been on the original trip, and Ginger Ellis, a 7th-grade student, will go to Haiti with their families and members of the parish to deliver supplies and carry the goodwill of St. Martin’s students to La Resurrection students.
“I have a favorite story that relates to why I want to travel to Haiti,” Ginger Ellis said. “A man throws back a starfish into the sea when there are millions on a beach. Someone asks him, what difference does it make? He replies, ‘Well, it matters to this one.’ I can’t change the world, but I can help a few people’s lives.”
Recently, 376 toys were packed and shipped to Gros Morne for the younger students at La Resurrection. St. Martin’s students and families have mounted many fund-raising events for the Haitian students and their teachers.
Shortly after the earthquake, a musical benefit, attended by students and parishioners of St. Martin’s, raised more than $10,000.
As a result of the proceeds from school activities, such as “Hot Lunch for Haiti,” “Dress-down Day for Haiti,” and “Hoops for Haiti,” La Resurrection School, with classes from nursery through high school, has been able to buy books, equip classrooms, and pay teachers.
Recognizing that soccer is a huge sport in Haiti, St. Martin’s-in-the-Field students this fall conducted a school-wide “Spare Change Collection” and raised enough money to buy soccer uniforms for La Resurrection’s team players.
“We have so much in the United States,” said Charlotte Kurtz.
“We have privileges, technology, and comfort. If our electricity goes out for a couple of hours because of a storm, we complain. Ginger and I are going to La Resurrection with my mother and grandfather and about five or six other people from our parish. We’ll be bringing school supplies. We’re going to paint the school buildings and stay in a local hotel. I am expecting this trip to Haiti to humble me.”