The Lesson

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world"
-Anne Frank

Hurricane Sandy and the aftermath touched the lives of all of us.  Locally, most of us were inconvenienced by the loss of electricity and heat, however some homes were damaged or even rendered uninhabitable. The extent of the destruction and how widespread it was reminded us of the power of nature and how easily things we take for granted can be so quickly taken away.  For most of us, it was difficult to complain as we slowly gained knowledge of what had happened along the Jersey Shore, Staten Island, lower New York City, and Long Island.

We certainly learn about ourselves and humanity when we are at our most vulnerable.  Across the region, neighbors and strangers alike rose to the challenge and lent a hand in some form or another.  In Sparta, specifically, we heard stories of whole neighborhoods organizing to clear felled trees,  and share warm homes, showers and meals.  We saw the public works department working long days and cold nights to remove the debris and make our roads passable.  We saw utility crews come from distant states to help us restore power.  We saw a police department maintain order, provide invaluable Facebook updates and manage the long gas lines.  Our own custodial team worked every day that school was cancelled, clearing trees and making our schools ready to open. Many of these people did these things while their own families and homes were equally effected by the hurricane.

As power was restored, and normalcy slowly returned we then turned our eyes toward those in the most devastated regions.  How can I help?  What do the victims and newly homeless need?  The compassion was palpable.  Our students and staff, desperate to help in some way, donated food and clothing to various support agencies.  We read in our local papers stories of people bringing supplies to the Jersey shore or thinking outside of the box and collecting boardgames and coloring supplies for children who were displaced (way to go, Michael!).

The lesson from this experience was not just that we are a resilient people, but that we will take care of each other when times are desperate.  How ironic that this was taking place as we were in the midst of a presidential election that clearly illustrated the political divide that exists in this country. Miss Sandy reminded us that we may have our differences, whether political, social or economic, but that when called to action we will rise up and unite in a common cause.  For our students  this may have been the first time they saw this in our nation.  For the adults, it is something that many in this region haven't felt since the fall of 2001.

As a result of Hurricane Sandy, we didn't have school for nearly two weeks. However, what we learned about our community, our neighborhoods, ourselves and each other through this ordeal provided the ultimate of lessons.  Lessons that will stay with us for a lifetime.

How you can still help:

Understanding the storm:

You are never too young to make a difference:
Click on the video on the right side of this blog (first video under "Great Videos")

Next post: How other natural disasters inspired members of our staff to make a difference.