06 May 2015
A motivated group of Hayden High School students is trying to make a big difference in a war-torn region 6,500 miles away.
The enthusiasm of the group brought teacher Kendra DeMicco to tears Friday.
“All of us in this room are proud to come from Hayden High School, and we’re proud of what we’re supporting,” sophomore Grace Wilkey said. “There is good in this school and leaders in this school and teachers that are willing to support us until the very end.”
While some students elected to learn fly fishing or martial arts, these 12 students chose to enroll in the Project Justice course taught by DeMicco and fellow teacher Rebecca Walker. It is an eight-week course that meets daily.
“It’s very ambitious,” DeMicco said. “We’re trying to race the clock.”
For their project, the students chose to raise money for refugee children in Turkey, who fled from a civil war in neighboring Syria.
According to Amnesty International, there are five million refugees from Syria in five countries, and Turkey hosts 1.6 million of those refugees.
DeMicco said learning about the refugee crises prompted her students to do something.
“The number of children displaced really struck a nerve with them,” DeMicco said.
Junior Makenzie Fry said her classmates all felt strongly about focusing their efforts on the refugees.
“A lot of these kids don’t have parents now and don’t have a home,” Fry said.
The students are raising money for a school that occupies the top two floors of an apartment building in Antakya, Turkey. DeMicco already had planned a trip for this May to the region to volunteer with friends. While there, she will deliver the money that will be used for the bare essentials. Toilets and furniture will be bought, as well as school supplies.
“There are like three children to a desk,” Fry said.
During class Friday, the Hayden students were huddled into groups in charge of producing a video, advertising and coming up with a presentation. There is also a committee tasked with planning a fundraising banquet from 6 to 8 p.m. May 15 at The Steamboat Grand. The cost to attend is $5. Students will give a presentation, and there will be appetizers and a silent auction.
Fry said the class is hoping to raise $5,000.
They are selling T-shirts for $10 that read #withsyriaschildren, and change jars have been placed at businesses in Hayden. The students also created a Project Justice Facebook page, are active on Twitter and set up a fundraising website at www.gofundme.com/s9b8us.
In addition to raising money, Wilkey said her class is trying to raise awareness of the Syrian refugee crisis.
“I feel like the real need from us right now is just attention from us,” Wilkey said.