Miami Beach Senior High School students and faculty ‘Stand With Haiti,’ continuing initiatives in the support of the Haitian community.
The One Book, One Community project is an interdisciplinary endeavor spearheaded by Language Arts teachers David Reese, Samuel Brown and Nina Duval, will offer approximately 550 upperclassmen the opportunity to read Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying. According to Duval, the desired impact is to create a common conversation among a diverse school community.
Mitchell Kaplan, Beach High Class of 1972, provided books at a discount from Books & Books on Miami Beach with funds raised by David Reese, who extends his gratitude to the student and parent stewards of Beach High’s US Grant Committee. Through curricular activities designed to build historical and cultural literacy, the common reading during the second quarter will foster dialogue, inspire questions, and allow students to carry on future initiatives based on well-informed beliefs.
“We decided to choose the work of a Haitian-American writer for our first One Book, One Community project because a great deal of Beach High social action relief work has evolved out of the disaster of the Haitian earthquake,” said Duval.
Edwidge Danticat will visit Beach High to speak to the students about her work, and share her frequently sought perspective on the people of Haiti.
“She speaks and writes with eloquence and insight about stories that resonate with particular strength in South Florida, stories of love and dislocation, of ordinary peoples burdens and dreams,” said Brown.
Along with students in the AVID program, AVID Counselor Sonja Clarke and Purchasing Secretary Guerlyne Jean raised funds at Beach High’s Carnival Day and through a dollar collection in June. Thanks to these efforts food was distributed to 120 families in the community of Trouitier in Port-au-Prince. AVID teachers and students have pledged their ongoing support of these families, as an estimated 1.5 million people remain stranded in displaced person camps in Port-Au-Prince.
“The goal was to bring a little joy and provide a reason for hope to those whose life had been shattered by the devastation in Haiti,” stated Clarke. “We could not have done it without everyone’s help.”
Meanwhile, Advanced Placement English Language and Composition students wrote letters to community leaders about Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (oursoil.org), a non-profit that builds sustainable composting toilets in Haiti, where an estimated 2.3 million live without basic sanitation. These letters resulted in conscious conversation between students and community members, and garnered support for this grassroots, non-governmental organization.
In Haitian-Creole, the word ‘konbit’ describes a group of people who come together to do a job. In learning to address complex global issues in an informed, compassionate manner, members of the Miami Beach Senior High family “Stand With Haiti” by standing with one another.
“Beach High has been extremely supportive in bringing aid to Haiti,” said Alix Braun, sophomore. “[We] continue to raise awareness about the current condition, as well as gather supplies from students and families.”
Lyssa Goldberg and Wendy Goya are members of the Beach High class of 2011.