Valley Stream junior high aiding storm-ravaged school in Texas


Memorial Junior High School hosted a homeroom competition this week to see which class could raise the most money to benefit an elementary school in Orange, Texas — about 100 miles northeast of Houston — that was heavily damaged by Hurricane Harvey in August.

“Really from the beginning of school, people have been coming in and saying, What can we do? How can we help?” Principal Bret Stauss said.

Special Education and BRAVE Committee Chairwoman Tracy Alesia corresponded with a fourth-grade teacher at Mauriceville Elementary after doing some creative Googling, and has “adopted the classroom” to coordinate the fundraiser based on the school’s needs.

“I was so excited,” Alesia said. “On a personal note, I was hit by Hurricane Sandy, and so many people went above and beyond … I’ve been there, and I just want to help with whatever I can.”

Alesia said that the fourth-grade teacher she emailed in Texas, Tanya Farwell, “lost everything” in the storm.

Mauriceville Elementary includes pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, and has about 600 students. Part of the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Consolidated Independent District, the school is one of six in the district — four of which flooded during the storm.

Farwell wrote to Alesia that school resumed on Sept. 20 on a part-time, flexible schedule, as space allows. Teachers have been sharing available classroom space on the campuses that did not flood, and are trying to make do with what little they have.

“I have gone from a [fully functional] classroom to a rolling cart. Lol,” Farwell wrote. She told Alesia that she might not be able to return to her classroom until January.

“We had [one to three feet] of water throughout our entire campus,” Farwell wrote. “All classrooms took a big hit. We lost all our wooden shelves, books — anything on a bottom shelf … you name it!”

Schools in the disaster area have been creating Amazon wish lists for those helping with the relief effort.

Given the rapid-fire natural disasters that struck Texas and the southeastern U.S. over the last month and a half, Alesia said that MJHS plans to continue brainstorming how to help.

“These students have not only lost their home, but they’ve lost their school too,” she said.

The homeroom class that raises the most money will be rewarded with a bagel party, she said. The fundraiser will run from Sept. 28 to Oct. 5 throughout the school.

Those who wish to donate can visit Mauriceville Elementary’s Amazon wish list at: or contact Tracy Alesia at Memorial.