Haitians to get Irish help: KCHS upperclassmen

At a time when most teens are only thinking about their own prom festivities, a teacher at Knoxville Catholic High School is hoping the school’s juniors and seniors will step up to help less fortunate students in Haiti.

Erin Chady, who teaches social studies, history and government at KCHS, is one of four advisors for the school’s prom committee, and it was her idea to hold a fundraiser during the two weeks leading up to this year’s Friday, April 26, prom event.

“Last spring, we started working on plans for this year’s prom,” she said. “And I looked ahead, at all the deposits and money that will be spent by the students.

“It will be a beautiful and extravagant celebration, but I thought I would like to see us do something altruistic, as well.”

She needed to look no further than needs at San Michel High School in Boucan-Carre, Haiti, considered KCHC’s sister school, as the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville has “adopted” the city through the “Hope for Haiti” organization.

“My high school kids will have a wonderful, beautiful prom, but what will those kids have?” she wondered.

She found out from other sources that the Haiti students “were just happy to be in school, and were looking forward to having [basic necessities], such as electricity and water.”

Suzanne Judd, who works at KCHS as registrar/bookstore coordinator, visited Boucan-Carre and its residents during two mission trips and described the students as “lovely” and “smart,” with most secondary school students speaking at least three languages.

The primary focus of students and their families is to obtain education, however, “it is expensive to do so,” Judd said. “Oftentimes families choose one child to attend school and the rest of them are unable to do so.

“Most every student at San Michel is sponsored by families in the United States,” she added, also noting a goal of the most recent mission trip was to obtain pictures of elementary school and secondary school students to help ensure their education would be sponsored in the future.

Although they do not have a prom, Chady learned the Haitian students do look forward to Easter every year, “with the girls hoping for new dresses, and the boys wishing for new shoes,” Chady said. “That’s how we came up with this idea to help them with their special occasion.

“We want them to be beautiful, too.”

Though Easter is April 21, the school is in the midst of a two-week fundraiser for the cause, which will conclude Thursday, April 25.

“The students are supposed to give up something for Lent, and we have asked them to save the money they would have spent on [the items), and donate it to the fundraiser,” she said, noting the focus audience for the charitable effort are the juniors and seniors who will be attending prom.

However, other students and members of the community also are welcome to donate.

Anyone wishing to donate may send a check to KCHS c/o “Hope for Haiti,” 9245 Fox Lonas Road, Knoxville, TN, 37923.