Dickinson National Honor Society students are raising money to help their so-called "sister city" in Dickinson, Texas, a community that was inundated with floodwaters just weeks ago that destroyed and damaged homes, businesses and at least one school there.
This past week, North Dakota's Dickinson High School students filed into their dry classrooms, while students at Texas' Dickinson High School spent their time cleaning up their community that was rocked by Hurricane Harvey on Aug. 25.
After a two-week delay in school, Dickinson Independent School District in Texas resumed classes on Sept. 11.
Some of the district's 11,000 students returned to school after losing everything. Of the district's 1,600 employees, 400 employees' homes were damaged by flooding, according to Tammy Dowdy, DISD director of communications.
After seeing the devastation in the Dickinson, Texas, community, Jim Fahy, a social studies teacher and adviser for DHS Honor Society, thought there must be a way they could help.
"When Dickinson, Texas, came on the news, I’m seeing how hard they got hit — they’re right next to the (Gulf of Mexico)," said Fahy, who then enlisted the help of his Honor Society students.
Honor Society committee chairs and seniors Alexus Meduna, Amy Wegner and Cora Knipp said they brainstormed ideas and decided to make T-shirts and collect money in jars. On Sept. 7-8 and Sept. 11, the students put out the jars at the high school and throughout the city, including grocery stores and gas stations. They collected about $3,500.
Meduna designed a T-shirt that displays the two states overlapping and has both Dickinson cities marked. Across the shirt it reads, "Support our sister city." They're selling the $15 shirts, which can be purchased at logomagicinc.com/dickinsonsistercity, until Sept. 21.
"It's a really good way of giving back, and that's really what our organization is all about," Fahy said.
Fahy reached out to Texas' Dickinson High School National Honor Society adviser, Kathleen Baldwin-Bruysschaard, to let them know of the plan to help.
“I was absolutely so touched," Baldwin-Bruysschaard said.
Baldwin-Bruysschaard said there was four feet of water in her home. Her family lost three cars and had to canoe and kayak to escape the flooding in their neighborhood. She was weeding through her family's belongings to find what was salvageable when she got an email from Fahy.
“I’ve got dirty gloves on my hands, I’m hot … and I get this email, and I stop to read it, and it just, the light just came out. It just made such a difference," she said.
Baldwin-Bruysschaard, who is also chair of the high school's science department, said her Honor Society students started a staple program two years ago that helps seniors who have overcome hardships during their high school career. This year, she wasn't sure she and her Honor Society students could do any fundraising for the program, because the community was hit hard by Harvey. They usually raise about $1,300 to help 10 students.
“I just felt, personally, that this would be really difficult,” she said. “The whole community is trying to get material items for people to get back on their feet. We have kids coming to school who lost everything and are still living in shelters. So, how am I going to ask my kids to raise money for something that we don’t have to have?"
So, when an Honor Society adviser from Dickinson emailed her and said his students wanted to help, Baldwin-Bruysschaard was elated.
“They’ve saved us," she said, adding that this week she told some of her Honor Society students who didn't believe it until they saw the email themselves. They may even be able to help more students in the program this year.
Local Dickinson Public Schools officials said they're proud that their Honor Society students stepped up to help another school during its time of need.
"It’s an awesome thing that our kids our doing," said Dickinson High School principal Ron Dockter. "They have a lot of compassion and empathy for, as they call it, their sister city."