In September 2017, Hurricane Maria descended on the largest U.S. Virgin Island, St. Croix, leaving tremendous destruction in its wake. Among those affected were the students of Lew Muckle Elementary School, which was condemned due to extensive damage.
The students in Katy Ghadiyali’s fifth grade class at Columbus Magnet School watched and heard about the destruction caused by the hurricane on TV and knew that they needed to respond with help.
Through the Adopt a Classroom program, Columbus students in Ms. Ghadiyali’s class were matched with a sixth-grade class at Lew Muckle Elementary School. They began to collect school supplies for students, engaging the rest of the school to help through student-created commercials. They asked each grade level to collect different items. Before long, they were able to collect and mail 10 boxes of school supplies with another nine to be sent at a later time.
The hurricane had also caused the electricity to go out in the school for a long period. Due to this, the teacher had to handwrite all of the assignments. When electricity was restored, the school did not have a printer. The Columbus PTA funded a printer and ink for the classroom.
The students also sent boxes of books and toys, and continued to collect items to send even after the Adopt a Classroom ended. The class also started a GoFundMe page to collect donations to cover postage costs and help purchase additional supplies.
The Board of Education is proud to recognize Ms. Ghadiyali and her fifth-grade class at Columbus Magnet School, along with all of the students and PTA members who worked tirelessly to make sure that students in St. Croix had what they needed to begin to rebuild their lives both in and out of school. An important aspect of the philosophy at Columbus is to ensure that through community building each child is given a voice, and children learn to respect and value different cultures and perspectives that relate to their world. It is clear that as a community, Ms. Ghadiyali and her students joined together to think about the needs of others, making the world a better place, one school at a time.