Extra Credit Assignment: Helping Those in Need


Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

Melina Lotito, Staff Writer

Our school’s Spanish Club is making a difference by helping the victims whose lives have been turned upside down by this year’s hurricane season.

The school’s Spanish Club hosted a movie night on Monday (11/6) at 3:30 p.m. in the PITT to boost students’ grades, and to raise money for the people whose lives have been destroyed by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. The Spanish Club (with new advisors Señora P-M and Señor Youssis) presented the film, Living on One Dollar, for an entry fee of five dollars, and snacks and refreshments were provided. The movie takes place in rural Guatemala, where four friends battle illness, parasites, and hunger. They struggle to live on one dollar a day for a span of eight weeks. The four friends decide to engage in this hands-on experience to learn what it is like to cope with poverty. The 56-minute film follows the journey of Chris Temple, Zach Ingrasci, Ryan Christoffersen, and Sean Leonard for 56 days, documenting how they decide to wisely use their 56 dollars in order to survive.

This chance to help those in need was only offered to students of certain world language teachers—Sr. Youssis, Sra. P-M, Sr. Marco, Sra. Ribau, Ms. Lane, Mlle. Williams, Sra. Kim, Ms. Allen, Mrs Sung, Srta. Diaz, and Srta. Costello—as an extra credit assignment. But the Spanish Club encourages all students to take their own initiative to help out people less fortunate. The Club’s decision to host a movie night with the proceeds going to help the victims of Puerto Rico will be bound to have an impact, big or small, in Puerto Ricans’ lives. “We raised about four hundred and fifty-five dollars,” said President of the Spanish Club, Nicole Menendez (‘18). “We sent it to the Hispanic Federation, which focuses more on Puerto Rico specifically, because they were hit harder by the hurricanes. We also had a bake sale that raised around two hundred dollars, which is twice as much as other clubs typically raise, so all of that money together, I would say, was successful, but we plan on having more events in the future, so we can raise even more money for Puerto Rico’s victims.”

Puerto Rico was clipped by Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm, on Wednesday, September 20th, and was directly hit later by Hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm. Hurricane Maria packed high winds of up to 150 mph. The eye of Hurricane Irma passed just north of Puerto Rico. In their article “What Every American Needs to Know about Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Disaster,” Brian Resnick and Eliza Barclay state, “What’s happened since has been truly catastrophic for Puerto Rico. There’s still little power on the island. In many places, there’s still no water to drink or bathe in or to flush toilets. There’s limited food and cell service, and dozens of remote villages have been completely cut off from everything for weeks.” The citizens of Puerto Rico have been cut off from most means of contact and survival. “Some 3.4 million US citizens live in Puerto Rico, and they are entitled to the same government response as any state. But half of Americans don’t even know that,” Resnick and Barclay said. Puerto Rico is a part of our country, too, and many believe that our nation needs to keep that in mind, especially when Puerto Rico is calling for our help.

So how can one take the initiative and help out the victims of the catastrophic hurricane season? “Well first, they should come to the club because we are very involved in what’s going on there and we have a lot of events that can help,” Menendez said. “A word of advice would be just to get involved in the club, as well as the Global Care club. They are helping out a lot, as we are collaborating with them. Looking around the hall for our flyers, as well as attending the meetings are other ways to be involved.”

Menendez spoke of how students hold a greater appreciation for what they have after watching the film. “I think they did have a newfound appreciation of their lifestyle, and people have realized they are privileged.” Menendez also said that even if the extra credit opportunity were taken away, and fewer people attended, attendees would have still come away with a deeper appreciation for what they were watching. “I think there would have been less people, but the less people that would have come would have cared more, and that’s honestly what we are looking for—people that care.”