The 60th anniversary celebration for Pinewood Preparatory School in Summerville had the entire school bustling with excitement.
But Elizabeth Kaufmann’s fifth-grade students had work to do that day. Her students were finishing the books they wrote to send to a school in Haiti.
Jessie and Serge Gauthier, parents of Pinewood students Alec and Dylan Gauthier, grew up in Port-Au-Prince and began volunteering in the rural village of Bodaire after the devastating 2010 earthquake. Jessie Gauthier enlisted the help of Alec’s fifth-grade class to make books for the school they are rebuilding in Bodaire. The school, founded in 2005, is run by the nonprofit organization Haitian Support and serves 400 students in grades K-7.
The books are in English, French (their written and administrative language) and Haitian creole (their more colloquial language).
“I liked thinking of the story and knowing that the people who are going to read it need it,” said fifth-grader Madeline Futeral.
In addition to writing and illustrating the books, the students learned about Haitian culture.
“They have a harder time surviving than we do,” said Arabella Hunter.
“They don’t have all the stuff we have like food and clean water,” added classmate Mitchell Bishop.
The students worked on the books for two months. Jessie Gauthier went to Haiti on Jan. 12 to deliver the books and returned Tuesday.
Kaufmann said the books have stories of things all children can relate to.
“They wrote them with messages that are universal and just pure,” Kaufmann said.
Alec said his book is about a soccer ball that wants to be played with by kids. He said students can related to this story because soccer is a popular sport in Haiti.
When asked what she hopes her students learned from the activity, Kaufmann replied: “A love of books — the pleasure of a book and where it can take you. In books, we meet people who are just like us. Our problems are shared and our dreams are shared.”
Reach Jade McDuffie at 937-5560 or firstname.lastname@example.org.