A lesson not in textbooks: 5th-graders help students in Houston

Local 5th-graders help Houston students.

BOISE - The people living in Houston, Texas, and surrounding cities are going to be dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey for months, or even years. Many organizations here in Idaho have made it their mission to do what they can to help out, and that includes 5th-graders in the Boise School District.

For Jessica Verdin, 5th-grade teacher at Grace Jordan Elementary School, it all started with a question: "How do leaders respond to problems?"

"They came up with answers like, 'We should donate things,' or, 'They can provide relief by asking people to join their effort,'" said Verdin.

At first, those ideas were just words.

"We had all these great responses but we weren't actually doing anything," Verdin said.

Now, her students are putting actions behinds those ideas by adopting a 5th-grade class nearly 2,000 miles away in Houston called 5 Harmony School of Enrichment.

"I tell people all the time, this is the heart of what I do in my classroom," said Verdin. "I think it will be a great view into their world and what they experienced."

Many schools and classrooms were destroyed while Hurricane Harvey tore through Texas, leaving students and teachers without the bare necessities. 

"They need pencils, pens, composition notebooks, highlighters and binders" said Verdin. "It's devastating. I know if I was in that teacher's shoes and I lost my classroom I just would not know where to start."

At Washington Elementary School, 5th-grade students in Ms. Johnson's class just found out they will be adopting a Houston classroom as well. 

"I thought it was awesome," said 5th-grader Christoper Hawkes. "I've never been able to help people so far away before."

On Monday, the class started planning how they will raise money for new school supplies for a 7th-grade class at Null Middle School. 

"We found out that that was one of the four schools that was hit the hardest," said 5th-grader Maizy Cluksdal.

They came up with ideas like holding a bake sale, a book sale, family pledges, and recycling for money.

"It was fun to know that there are so many ways that we can help," said 5th-grader Lucy Rodes.

The class also looked at pictures showing the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.

"They don't have anything like these boards and tables," said Hawkes. "A lot of people don't really realize how much they need, and all of the things in their lives until they're gone."

It's a lesson not found in any textbook.

"From this experience they learn when I see a problem I don't just do nothing about it, but I respond to that problem," said Verdin.

In addition to school supplies, students at 5 Harmony School of Enrichment also need school uniforms. Verdin says you can donate khaki, navy blue or black shorts and pants in sizes 10, 12, 14 and 16.

Both classes are still in the planning phase of how they plan to raise money, but for now if you'd like to help you can bring school supplies to either school's main office.  

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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