For Sacred Heart students… A lesson in home improvement

Five Upper School students and their chaperones took a week away from studies to help rebuild homes in New Orleans. Above, the the girls get to work.

Five Upper School students and their chaperones took a week away from studies to help rebuild homes in New Orleans. Above, the the girls get to work.

Convent of the Sacred Heart (CSH) faculty members and five Upper School students recently lent helping hands to Louisiana residents whose home was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina in the city of Chalmette, just outside New Orleans.

The school has been sending a team down each year since Katrina hit in 2005 and, while evidence of rebuilding is apparent, members say there are still areas that need help. At CSH, the Upper School offers a program that enables students to benefit from direct service opportunities.

“Service-learning opportunities like New Orleans and another trip planned this summer to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota provide an extended experience that weaves in learning with service,” said Lori Wilson, director of campus ministry and US community service. “These are opportunities for students to understand people of another culture, their struggles and to gain a sense of how connected we are as people on the same planet.”

Kevin Donnelly, U.S. language department chair, and Ms. Wilson worked alongside the Katrina Krewe — which included sophomores Molly Carroll, Elizabeth Denson, Gabby Giacomo, Julia Perry and freshman Yahnah Johns Woodby. The team worked on rebuilding a house with the St. Bernard Project in New Orleans.

In a blog on the school’s website, Ms. Wilson and the students wrote about the plight of the poor in New Orleans.

“The girls have been working hard mudding, sanding, painting, tiling, working on installing baseboards, hanging cement board and learning about Katrina, New Orleans and why the city and people are still in need of help,” Ms. Wilson wrote.

“The homeowner hasn’t been in her home since Katrina. She’s 60 years old and has been living with relatives since the hurricane. Work was begun, but contractors defrauded on their work and now, finally, she’s close to moving back into her home.

“There was 15-feet of water during the storm in this neighborhood and she had to climb out of her upper story bedroom window into a boat and get to safety. This service learning experience has been a learning one for all of the girls. They are learning new skills, learning more about New Orleans, enjoying some new foods, working hard and becoming more confident. We can be proud of all of them,” Ms. Wilson wrote.

While the students were on their five-day project at the end of January they were interviewed by New Orleans’ major daily newspaper, The Times-Picayune. To read about their experience, visit the school’s website at cshgreenwich.org.

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