JANESVILLE

Marshall Middle School teacher Tricia Reif believes her students want to give back. They just need someone to get them started, and they’ll take it from there.

Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria have proved her point.

Students from Marshall and other Janesville schools have stepped up to help raise money and supplies for schools and people who will be recovering for months.

“All students have compassion,” Reif said. “I just wanted to bring something into the classroom for them to tap into that compassion.

Her students have connected with a sixth-grade class in Charlie Marshall Elementary School in Aransas Pass, Texas, a school less than than two miles from Corpus Christi Bay. From there, only a thin stretch of San Jose Island separates them from the Gulf of Mexico.

The Associated Press described Aransas Pass as taking the “brunt” of Hurricane Harvey on Aug. 25.

A teacher at the school told Reif that after the hurricane passed, she went to the school to see what she could salvage.

“The principal told her she could have 10 minutes in her room to gather up anything she could,” Reif said.

The roof was torn off, and the school was flooded.

Reif presented the problem to her seventh-grade homeroom class and asked, “What to you want to do, guys?”

They immediately went to work.

Students have placed barrels around the school to collect supplies, put up posters advertising their efforts and spoken about the supply drive to all the classes.

Last week, shelves in a teacher’s workroom were filling up with notebooks, glue sticks, pens, pencils, folders and other school items.

Other hurricane relief efforts in the school district include:

  • Roosevelt Elementary School children making quilts to send south.
  • Washington Elementary School collecting pennies. The school collected about $400 for hurricane relief.
  • Harrison Elementary School and its church partner, Bethel Baptist Church, adopting a school in Texas. School officials are still waiting for more information, but they have been assigned a first-grade classroom.
  • Craig High School’s football team helping load up trucks at the supply drive at Blain’s Farm & Fleet. That event took place in earlier in September.

The kids at Marshall acknowledged that helping other people was the main goal, but it came with other benefits.

“I like it that our team on seven green is really coming together,” said Katelyn Adler, 12.

Because Marshall is so large, the school is divided up into smaller pods or communities. Seven green is on of those communities.

Struggles have included getting full participation and overcoming their dread of public speaking.

Madison Nichols, 12, said the hardest part for her was speaking in front other classes.

“I just don’t like to talk in front of other people,” Madison said in a quiet voice.

One student said it was a struggle to get the eighth-grade students to participate. That was probably because they—the organizers—were seventh graders.

But never mind because the collection was going well.

Kids will also be creating a video about their school and writing letters to students in Texas. Their teacher suggested they think about who will be on the receiving end of those letters.

“We’ll be taking photos of the things all schools have,” said Sam Fondriest, 13. “We don’t want to be bragging, ‘Oh look at how good our school is.’”

Addison Miller, 13, agreed, and added, “We should be modest.”

The handwritten letters will contain basic information about the kids and their school.

In his letter, Logan Krause, 12, will write about his interests, including football. Logan is a defensive end. It’s the same position Houston Texan and former Badger J.J. Watt plays. Watt has raised more than $37 million for hurricane relief.

Logan wants to do his part, too.

“I want those people to get better,” Logan said.

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