A pair of students are fundraising for their upcoming volunteer trip to the Dominican Republic to help build a school and improve the education system.
Assistant Principal Susan Wright and the two eighth grade students, Shelby Pierson and Olivia Bruyn, along with each of the students' mothers, will head to the Dominican Republic in November to add a second story to a school in the small town of Constanza, 30 minutes into the mountains from Santo Domingo.
Last year, Wright was part of the Lifetouch Memory Mission, which brought more than 30 people from the United States to Constanza to build the first story of the school. She said that prior to that mission the community had no school for the children, so kids were not attending school at all.
The team built the first story in a week. They stayed in the town and the community members provided food for them because they were so grateful for their help, Wright said.
Wright was so moved by the trip that she wants to go again this year and bring others. She involved Southampton Intermediate School students by setting up a pen pal relationship with the students in the Dominican Republic.
Wright said that it is a an eye-opening experience and, “If you are meant to go on this trip, it’ll happen.”
Shelby and Olivia are part of the pioneer Dual Language Program in the . They have been speaking Spanish in school everyday since first grade. The trip is their first opportunity to use their fluency extensively in a Spanish speaking country.
Shelby and Olivia both said they are more nervous about constructing the building then using their Spanish.
Shelby's mother, Amy Pierson, said she is excited to see her daughter and Olivia on the trip because it will be a real learning experience for them. They will see children their age who do not have the same opportunities or standard of living, she said. They will practice their Spanish and be working hard alongside the adults.
Shelby and Olivia, whose mother Sherryl Bruyn will accompany her, will be fundraising up to $2,800 for their trip. The money they raise will go toward their stay plus the materials for the building.
On Sept. 22 they will hold a bake sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of to raise money for the trip.
The students also plan on doing a calendar raffle, in which one prize is drawn each day of the month, with a chance to win 31 different prizes. A raffle ticket will cost $25.
Contact Amy Pierson at Agawam103@aol.com or 631-767-3190 for more information on the calendar raffle.
To make a donation directly, click this link and fill in the name Shelby Pierson or Olivia Bruyn under "participant name."