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Massapequa Observer - Schools

Elementary Students Chat With Superstorm Helpers

Unqua Elementary School students met their guardian angels, the students and staff at Milton Terrace South Elementary School in Ballston Spa, New York, during a 30-minute videoconference aimed at expressing their appreciation for the more than $1,500 in clothes and gift cards their upstate friends donated to the district’s Sandy victims. The Massapequa School District was adopted by Milton Terrace South through the Schools Helping Schools program, launched by the New York State Council of School Superintendents as a way for districts to help other districts devastated by Sandy.

Unqua students were tickled to see the entire Milton Terrace South student body for the first time and thank them for rallying together to help their recovery, and Milton Terrace South students were equally thrilled to gain a better understanding of how the storm impacted their Massapequa peers and how their generosity helped them get through this difficult time.

“This was a great healing process for our students and a powerful way to bring to life the people that showed so much care and concern for them,” said Unqua Principal Deanna Catapano.

During a question and answer format, students explained where they were when the storm hit, the damage their homes incurred, where they had to evacuate to and the stress they and their families felt throughout the horrifying ordeal.

At one point, Unqua students waved American flags and held guardian angel figures for everyone at Milton Terrace South to see. Nearly 350 students from Massapequa School District were initially displaced because of Sandy, according to district officials. About 140 are not yet back in their homes.

Milton Terrace South reached out to the district after conducting numerous fundraisers such as a Taste of Milton Terrace South luncheon and a school-wide Have a Heart clothing and gift card drive, which garnered overwhelming results.

“Their generosity was truly above and beyond what we could have imagined,” said Dr. Thomas Fasano, assistant to the superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, who worked closely with Milton Terrace South on the delivery of their donations. “This videoconference was the perfect way for students at both schools to learn from a very difficult situation.”

The videoconference came on the heels of another Sandy-related event called Massapequa Breathes. This free, family-fun event gave residents devastated by Sandy the opportunity to enjoy an afternoon filled with food, entertainment and goods from local vendors.  Sponsored by Massapequa YES Community Counseling Services, the Massapequa School District, the Massapequa PTA Council and the Chamber of Commerce, the event also acknowledged many people in the community who helped residents recover.