September has proven to be a rough month for Etay Rosenzweig. Two weeks ago, Hurricane Katrina forced the 17-year-old and his family to abandon their home in New Orleans and flee to Memphis, Tenn. for refuge. They arrived there only to discover that Katrina would be heading for Memphis as well, so after spending a mere few hours in Tennessee, the Rosenzweig clan moved on to Arkansas. They finally ended up in Virginia on Sunday, Sept. 4. It is in this way that Etay Rosenzweig unexpectedly found himself starting as a senior at McLean High School last week. His younger sister joined McLean High School’s sophomore class.
“We’re just glad that we are still south of the Mason-Dixon Line,” said Rosenzweig.
Until last week, Rosenzweig had been a resident of New Orleans for 10 years. His father secured a job in Northern Virginia, and the family found a house in McLean last Friday. As for their home in New Orleans, Rosenzweig is still unsure of its condition.
“We saw some satellite pictures and it doesn’t look too bad, but we don’t really know,” he said.
AS A PERSON directly affected by Katrina, it seemed only fitting that Rosenzweig attend the McLean High School Student Government Association (SGA) block party fund-raiser for victims of the hurricane. The block party was held on the school’s tennis courts on Friday, Sept. 9, just prior to McLean’s first home football game of the season.
A $5 contribution was collected at the entrance to the tennis courts, although one gentleman was kind enough to drop a $100 bill off as he passed by. Junior Class Officer Blair Saunders organized the raffle prizes.
"We have Nationals tickets and team merchandise because the football team donated them," said Saunders
Additionally, the senior class opted to donate the $50 "Golden Ticket" that it won for dominating the school's spirit rally earlier that day. Even the hired DJ cut his fee in half as a way of contributing.
The event seemed to attract community members of all ages, as everyone from parents to younger siblings were in attendance. Despite the humidity, 14-year-old Emma Lord, a freshman at McLean High School was, danced on the tennis courts with her friend and two younger sisters in tow.
“I think we were the first ones here,” she said. “We just wanted to come.”
ACCORDING TO student government sponsor Helen Stephan, the fund-raiser was solely the idea of the student government members.
“They said they wanted to do something and they wanted to do something quickly,” said Stephan. “It was quite an effort to put this on in four days, but everybody helped out. The sports teams contributed tickets, the parents donated prizes — it was really a community effort.”
McLean High School Principal Paul Wardinski was also impressed with the SGA’s swiftness in organizing the event.
“They threw this together the best they could and I commend them for their efforts,” he said.
Wardinski confirmed that McLean High School is welcoming a total of six new students who were displaced by the devastation of Katrina, and that the school plans to gather those students together for a lunch meeting sometime this week. In addition, an ongoing support group will be created.
“It’s hard enough being new, but it is even more difficult when you are new under these circumstances,” said Wardinski. “The first week is crazy enough as it is. We are all just getting settled ourselves.”
Thus far, Etay Rosenzweig has found the reception at McLean High School to be a warm one.
“Everyone is really nice,” he said, commenting that the biggest change for him has been the size of the student body. “It’s big — really, really big. I come from a place where I thought 900 students was a big school.”