New Visions for Public Schools

Queens Students & Families Give Thanks In Spite of Hurricane Sandy

Students and their families at the Queens High School for Information Research & Technology (QIRT), out in Far Rockaway, haven’t had much to be happy about since Hurricane Sandy robbed many of them of heat, hot water and the comfort of their own homes. But last week on the day before Thanksgiving, they gathered for a Thanksgiving Feast to celebrate togetherness and give thanks for surviving the storm.

Outside the sky was clear and the sun was shining brightly, a reflection of the high spirited climate inside of a building that, just a few weeks prior,  had weathered one of the worst storms New York has ever seen.

Walking through the hallways, a palpable sense of hope was evident from the colorfully decorated banners that read “QIRT SURVIVED SANDY!” and “It’s Time to Celebrate with a Thanksgiving Feast!”

The feast, serving almost 500 people, was organized by the school’s principal Magaly Hicks, the Parent Teacher Association and school staff members who invested thousands of dollars and many hours, cooking and preparing food to nourish the families.

The enticing aromas lured students and families along the bright orange corridors to the cafeteria. The turkey, stuffing, ham and cranberry sauce held their rightful places, but a variety of remarkably diverse dishes including West Indian styled rice and peas and stewed chicken, baked ziti, corn casserole, and even Puerto Rican styled roasted pork, well known as pernil and prepared by Principal Hicks herself, made their way onto the menu.

 “Our families have experienced so much loss during this time,” said Principal Hicks. “I figured that the least we could do is give of ourselves, to let them know that they are not forgotten. “

Since the hurricane, the school has made itself a resource center for members of the community, giving away, clothes, food, blankets and hundreds of toiletries daily.

The day of the feast was no exception. After students and families ate lunch, the school distributed Thanksgiving turkeys and food bags – donated and prepared by New Visions staff members – filled with various non perishable items including canisters of peanut butter and jelly and a variety of canned vegetables .

Parents in attendance were very grateful for the school’s help. “Some of us won’t even be able to have a Thanksgiving dinner,” said Josephine Nunez, parent of QIRT 11th grader Loren Nunez. “We lost the whole first floor of our house, so we are just thankful to the school for this meal, but also for all that they have given to us during this time.”

Dressed in a turkey costume, the school’s biology teacher spent the day spreading cheer and stealing giggles from parents and younger siblings. “Every staff member worked so hard and gave so much to make today possible, she said.” “I’m proud to be part of a team like this.”

To view photos click here.

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