24 Jun Schools’ partnership builds bonds at home, across the globe

By Hugh McMillan, The Peninsula Gateway
June 24, 2014

Peninsula Gateway-Mock Check

Key Peninsula Middle School students Geni Schwensinger, Skylian Lester, Abby Beck, Kiersten Ritchy and Dora Vaughan, from left, present a check for $1,007 to Lighthouse Christian School middle school students. KPMS photography and yearbook teacher Mike Hunziker and LCS principal Stephen Roddy look on. The funds are from KPMS’ yearly Change 4 Change coin drive to raise money to help LCS establish schools in Liberia.

An ongoing relationship between Key Peninsula Middle School, Gig Harbor’s Lighthouse Christian School and Lighthouse’s sister schools in Liberia is dedicated to establishing and maintaining schools in the African country where there is a profound need for such assistance.

To KPMS photography and yearbook teacher Mike Hunziker, the program affects those involved on several different levels.

“The real story is about people on the Key Peninsula and students in Liberia who are benefiting from this exchange between the KPMS and LCS communities,” Hunziker said. “I think students in both communities benefit as they realize that there are always people in need, whether locally or globally. Students in both communities learn that giving makes you feel good about yourself, your school and your community.”

Hunzicker noted that a special synergy has developed between the two schools. He feels it’s a positive experience for LCS students to come out to the Key and spend time at KPMS, and it’s an equally positive experience for KPMS students to make a yearly visit to LCS.

“The visits are special because they are made with a common cause, a common goal: to help the less fortunate,” Hunzicker said. LCS helps KPMS with its yearly food drives to help people in need on the Key. Reciprocally, KPMS has a yearly Change 4 Change drive to raise money to help LCS establish schools in Liberia.

To seventh-grader Shyann Bennet, “It was very inspiring to help LCS raise money for the kids in Liberia.”

Classmate Amiah Bilderback said, “Helping Liberia made me feel good … to help people get what they deserve. It’s a feeling like no other to put smiles on their faces. To give is great, and helping them makes me smile. This was an amazing experience.”

“Imagine for a moment if every school district in the U.S. linked with private schools in the same area to raise money to help disadvantaged schools in many countries in Africa and elsewhere or to help feed hungry people in those communities,” suggested Hunzicker. “What LCS and KPMS are doing together is very special.”

To KPMS eighth-grader Nici Gilberston, “It’s truly inspiring to watch my school help a school all the way in Liberia to have a school they dreamed of.”

“The partnership between LCS and our school is amazing,” added classmate Abbey Beck. “There is such a divide between the KP and LCS. Coming together to help kids in such dire conditions is a privilege.”

Fellow eighth-grader Halee Bruner is “so happy that everyone’s lives are constantly changing and the fact that two different schools worked together as a team to accomplish helping a school that does not have what we have.”

Classmate Ashley Fahey was “extremely happy that our school was doing Change 4 Change drive. I knew we could make a difference in Liberia schools.”

And Geni Schwesinger, an eighth-grader, thought, “Yearbook helps with a lot of school activities, but the Change 4 Change coin drive is definitely the most fun thing. My favorite part was when we went to LCS to give them the cool mock check we made.”

“It’s important to teach our kids to care for people who are less fortunate and struggling in life.” LCS principal Stephen Roddy said.
Serve The Children, the organization the project goes through, gives the students an opportunity to help those in need. For seven years the schools have raised money to support building projects, supplement teachers salaries, and to help kids in Liberia.

“Through friendship with KPMS’ Mike Hunzicker, we partner each other’s projects,” Roddy said . “We help KPMS food drives and they help our coin drives for Liberia. The partnership has been going on for three years. It’s a good example of kids looking past differences to work together to help people in need.”

Seems like a good example for adults to practice as well.