Students wore shorts, summer shirts, leis and flip-flops last week while two girls excitedly shouted, “It’s snowing!”
The incongruous scene could only mean one thing: Bermuda Day at Park View High School.
The annual event provides “stress relief” prior to exams and proceeds usually go toward scholarships. On Thursday, students paid $1 for a ticket to attend the Bermuda Day activities and to support this year’s cause: rebuilding communities devastated by the tsunami. Principal Anne Brooks said the school raised $1,100. Students, teachers, administrators and staff dressed in summer attire and played games, including the rubber chicken toss, the hula-hoop relay and the toilet paper wrap race while others cheered them on.
IT WAS ONE of many efforts by Park View to reach out globally. The Student Council Association (SCA) sponsored Bermuda Day and an upcoming spirit link contest between classes and Potomac Falls High School. Students buy paper links, and the class and school with the most links win. United Way traditionally benefits from the spirit link fund raiser, but this year the profits will be divided with the tsunami effort.
Brooks said profits from the girls’ basketball game Tuesday night also were to be donated along with contributions collected among the spectators and from a raffle.
Diane Petrella, a marketing teacher, said DECA students donated $154 from a day of school store sales. She is advisor to DECA, the marketing club. Once a month, the DECA students give a day’s worth of sales to a cause. The biggest fund raiser so far has been for a former student who is suffering with Lupus.
“One of the things we work at is … taking care of our community and also, the needs around the world,” Petrella said. “Some of that is because we have so many people from around the world.”
CHRIS PARASKEVOPOULOS, chairman of the school’s Tsunami Relief Committee, also wrote The USA Freedom Corps in Washington, D.C., seeking the committee’s placement on the Web site to increase visibility and potential donations. There has been no response yet. “Our vision and goal is to mobilize our student body to raise money to send to worthy, charitable organizations,” he wrote. “We further plan to canvas Park View High school students, faculty and the Sterling community for donations.”
Paraskevopoulos said the students were leaning toward sending all of the funds to the American Red Cross, because 90 percent of the money would directly help the tsunami situation. He said he got involved, “just because I can. … It’s an unfortunate event that I felt I could help with.”
SCA president Lynne Ellison helped run the games on Bermuda Day. “We’re doing the most we can to support … and aid the victims,” she said.
Pam Smith, a vocational teacher, helped students create a map with names of students who had family or friends in countries damaged by the tsunami or were natives of those regions. “I think it’s great these kids give and give and give,” she said.
The devastation had an impact on everyone, she said, likening it to the 2001 terrorist attack on the United States. “Nobody I know was in 9/11, but I was affected,” she said.
STEPHANIE BERNIER, a sophomore, was relieved to learn that missionaries from the Faith Bible Church in Sterling were not harmed. The missionaries left Sterling six years ago to serve in Indonesia. “We heard about everything and got worried,” she recalled. “At first, we didn’t know if they were OK.”
Mobin Jacob, a junior, said he was comforted by the knowledge that his relatives in India were safe, because they live inland. “The major effects were on the seashore,” he said. “I went to India over the summer and I actually stood on those beaches.”
He said he wasn’t sure if he would be alive today if he had been there when the tsunami struck. “Ten thousand people were killed in India alone,” he said. “It was a great devastation.”
The huge sea wave killed more than 150,000 people altogether.
Jacob said the world is doing a good job in providing relief funds. “But money can’t really replace the lives of people lost,” he said. “We can learn from this and be better prepared in the future.”