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BA helping coast school after Katrina

A recent trip to the coast offered a group of Brookhaven Academystudents and faculty members a first-hand view of HurricaneKatrina’s destructive power and served as a reminder for them to bethankful for daily blessings.

Brookhaven Academy has adopted Cedar Lake Christian Academy inBiloxi and last month took a load of school supplies, householditems and $1,200 in financial donations to the coast. Members ofBA’s Student Council and advisers discussed their experiencesWednesday during a student assembly at the school.

“Pictures don’t do it justice to what you physically see whenyou go,” adviser Dawn Freeman said.

The destruction left some students at a loss for words.

“It was unfathomable how bad it was. I can’t describe how bad itwas,” senior Anna Moak said.

During the three-day trip, 11 students and seven adults workedaround the school, which has approximately 200 students from 18months old to seventh grade, and at the heavily damaged homes ofseveral of its faculty members, said Penny Mitchell, counciladviser. Mitchell said BA chose Cedar Lake from a list of damagedcoast schools on the Mississippi Private School Association’s Website.

Senior Katie Ryan said the trip was a “rewarding experience.”Fellow senior Steven Covington recalled the children’s reactionafter BA students managed to assemble a piece of playgroundequipment.

“Just to see the kids on that and the expressions on theirfaces, that’s really something special,” Covington said.

Mitchell also relayed an e-mail message from Cedar LakePrincipal Lisa Williams.

“I cannot express in words how much I appreciate everything,”Williams wrote. “God has truly blessed us above and beyond in themidst of ‘yuck.'”

Freeman and senior Bobby McGuffie observed how problemsencountered by Lincoln County residents were small compared tothose on the coast.

“It was just an inconvenience (here),” said McGuffie, whomentioned a loss of air conditioning and no television at his home.”Down there, it was more than an inconvenience.”

In a touching testimonial, Freeman said she considered herself”spoiled” after complaining about being without power for 13 days.She went on to describe the tents which are now homes to manyhurricane victims.

“These are tents you pitch to go to the woods to camp,” Freemansaid. “That’s what they’re living in.”

Freeman said the trip provided a clear distinction between wantsand needs.

“There are so many things they need so much more than what Iwant or have at this time,” said Freeman, who urged students toremember to be thankful every day for the things they have.

While encouraging students to remember the hurricane victims,Mitchell said another trip is being planned for after the holiday,possibly in February. She said recovery efforts are under way atCedar Lake but said the school and the community still have a longway to go.

“God is doing a great, great thing on the coast, but there isstill so much to do,” Mitchell said.