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April 3, 2013

Serious side to Laurens students' break

By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star

---- — The senior class at Laurens Central School took some time on its spring break trip to do community service — in the Bahamas. The group left for a Caribbean cruise from New York City on March 23, Superintendent Romona Wenck said. It  returned March 31.

Along with swimming, sightseeing and shopping, the 25 students and their chaperons brought toys, clothing books and other items collected at the school to the children at the Grand Bahama Children’s Home in Freeport. The facility is for neglected children through age 12. 

Wenck said she always tries to emphasize students need to be involved in community service. She said she was gratified that all of the students on the trip during spring break wanted to be involved. They stopped for more traditional vacation activities in Florida and Nassau as well as the Bahamas.

The students had been raising money for the trip since seventh grade. They decided on the cruise at the start of the year. Through a contact Wenck made with Bonnie Rolle, a senior manager with the Bahamian Ministry of Tourism, the trip to the orphanage came together shortly before they left, she said. There was enough time for students and staff at Laurens to donate the items the students brought. 

The 12th-graders interviewed Tuesday said the stop at the orphanage was the best part of their senior trip.

Kathleen Francisco said when the students arrived, the children just wanted to play. The extremes of wealth and poverty she saw on the trip made her feel fortunate for all she has.

“We’re very gifted in this country,” she said. “When bad things happen we pull together.”

She said she saw people still recovering from natural disasters in 2004. 

The cruise was a lot of fun, Eric Ericson said, but the orphanage stop made it special.

“It will be something we always remember,” he said.