The coordinated terror attacks in Paris on the night of Friday, Nov. 13 stopped Harley Hendricks in her tracks. The Caledonia High School senior and French language student was stunned, as the world was, to hear the breaking news out of France.
“It just hit me really hard, and it made me feel like everyone lost something,” said the 17-year-old daughter of Thomas Hendricks and Tracy Henry. “I know what it feels like to lose a family member; I can only imagine what everyone was going through.”
As details emerged, Hendricks felt compelled to do something — anything. She almost immediately contacted her French teacher, Jennifer Allen.
“I told her I felt really bad that I have everything, and I wanted to know if we could something in return that could help,” Hendricks said. “I asked her if we could do a donation.”
By Monday following the Friday night attacks, a plan was taking shape at the high school.
“My French students approached me in shock and despair,” said Allen. “They sympathized with the French people because of our recent lessons and research on the attacks of 9/11, and they wanted to raise awareness for peace.”
French and Spanish students who make up the school’s World Language Club swiftly organized a Pennies for Peace drive within the high school. Money raised would be given to the International Red Cross in honor of the victims of the attacks, and the French people.
French class students made up donation buckets and delivered them to all high school teachers, encouraging each class to contribute spare change.
Sophomore Juan Aguirre is president of the Spanish Club.
“Students felt bad, and they donated whatever pocket money they had … it was the right thing to do,” said the 15-year-old son of Eliasar Aguirre and Blanca Ruiz.
When the buckets were collected and all the coins counted by World Language Club members last week, donations totaled more than $700.
“I’m really glad,” Hendricks said. “I was expecting about $300, so when we got that much, my mind was blown. We’d like to thank everyone who donated.”
Allen was impressed by the students’ concern for world peace.
“They have researched the terror attacks of 9/11 and of Nov. 13, 2015,” she said. “They want to promote a new generation of peace and love.”
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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