West Milford students raise awareness - and crayons?!

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  • Macopin students Tyler, Alex, Maggie and Melanie display collections for the Central African Republic.




  • Seniors Max O'Bryant and Artur Tyszka explain the CAR Relief Program to teacher Jennifer Metcalf.



The flyer posted in the West Milford School hallways read “6,000 Child Soldiers, 6,000 Crayons.”

First orchestrated by Amy Dickerson’s English classes at Macopin Middle School, the campaign sought to bring attention to the growing crisis in the Central African Republic. It was picked up by other student organizations town-wide. The campaign had a special focus on the estimated 6,000 child soldiers and 220,000 refugees.

The high school’s HOPE organization — a student-driven group that focuses on global humanitarian aid — took up the gauntlet with informational tables in the caféteria and awareness posters in the hallways.

“It is imperative to understand that, without our help, the CAR will not get the essential aid it needs to thrive,” said senior Max O’Bryant.

“Students need to understand that the needs of people in a developing country — clean water, consistent food supply, safety — are often the most vulnerable to internal strife,” said teacher Bruce Bialkin.

Students are truly the driving force behind such efforts. Students Alex Metcalf and Tyler Thenell created posters, designed t-shirts, and worked to spread the word among students at their schools.

“I am writing letters to try to get the situation in C.A.R. to the general public through newspapers," said eighth grade student Shaelyn Huber. "Our whole class is working on similar projects. As a teenager, a lot of the time I feel powerless, like I can’t do anything to help. It makes me feel really good to know that I’m making a difference even in a small way."

“My students are an inspiration,” Dickerson said.

Donations will be sent to “USA for UN Refugee Agency” for distribution to the makeshift schools in refugee centers. Community members wishing to contribute may send donations to Jennifer Dickerson, c/o of Macopin Middle School, 70 Highlander Drive, West Milford, NJ 07480.

- Submitted by Jennifer Metcalf

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