Hands across America
Basehor-Linwood students helping Katrina victims
Helping hands are stretching from the Basehor-Linwood school district across approximately 960 miles to a Gulf Coast public school system decimated by Hurricane Katrina.
Late last week, school district officials announced that Basehor-Linwood schools would adopt the Pass Christian School District in Mississippi.
"We thought this would be a good opportunity for our school district to do what we can to help another district get back on their feet," said Joe Keeler, Basehor-Linwood High School athletic director and point man for the adopt-a-district project.
Basehor-Linwood chose Pass Christian after learning the stories of three students from that district -- Amanda and Paige Necaise and Megan Armstrong -- who were evacuated to the Basehor-area home of relatives.
Officials from the Pass Christian district could not be reached for comment. Basehor-Linwood officials are also unable to reach anyone from the district, Keeler said.
The Pass Christian school district, which has a total enrollment of approximately 1,900 students, is similar in size to Basehor-Linwood. Each school here locally will raise money and acquire donations for their counterparts in Mississippi, Keeler said.
The relief efforts are already under way.
At Friday night's football game, the three Mississippi evacuees received $400 a piece in gift cards to area stores.
Several Pass Christian schools were besieged by the hurricane. Armstrong said the district's middle school is "completely gone," half of one elementary school has collapsed and the high school was flooded up to the second floor.
School will resume on Oct. 3 in Pass Christian. All students will attend classes from an elementary school left with moderate damage from the hurricane, Armstrong said. Some classes will take place inside temporary buildings, she added.
"It's going to be a whole bunch of stuff thrown together for a while," she said.
Armstrong's grandfather, Dave Zeitfuss, left Leavenworth County Tuesday morning with a truckload of supplies donated from area residents. The supplies will be given to family members left homeless from the hurricane.
Armstrong said her family has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of goodwill they've received from the area communities.
"We're very shocked they're going to help us get back together," she said. "We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into when we came."