East High's community day promotes service

Wichita East High School students volunteered their time Wednesday to do something as simple as making flash cards for elementary teachers or as global as packing 40,000 meals for earthquake victims in Haiti.

But no matter how big or small the project, the 2,000-plus students also learned lessons as part of the school's second annual community day.

"It's more than community service — it's service learning," principal Ken Thiessen said. "They're learning about the organization and the work that's being done."

Three classes of students were diligently creating more than 2,000 laminated sheets of word flash cards for K-3 teachers at Gordon Parks Academy.

"We wanted to do more for the kids out there," junior Dominik Andrewjeski said.

Teacher Carol-Beth Porter coordinated a small-scale version of the project last year, in which one class created cards only for her friend who teaches at the recently opened Gordon Parks.

"The don't have a lot of money and supplies," Porter said. "She loved it." Other teachers asked how to get them.

But Porter said the best part is seeing her students blossoming in the project planning.

"The most fun is watching the three or four most unlikely people take over," Porter said.

Just down from the quiet card-making classes, 300 students were packing meals for Numana in the East Gym, accompanied by pop music blasting through speakers.

Students involved in the Haiti relief project raised about $10,000 to pay for the meals being sent to earthquake victims.

Freshman Rachelle Feuillerat pitched the idea of a food-packing event after she participated in one at the Kansas Coliseum.

"I wanted to do something because I can't give money, and I can give time," she said. "I just think it's so amazing, especially to see all sorts of people... with one common goal of helping people."

Students donated another $3,000 to IMA World Health because one of the assistant principals is the brother-in-law of IMA employee and Wichita graduate Ann Varghese, who was buried in the Haiti earthquake rubble for 55 hours in January.

As a principal announced that the students had packed 35,000 meals with 1 1/2 hours left to go, Rachelle was amazed by a packing experience once again.

"Honestly, I didn't think we could do it, but we're doing it," she said.