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Ireton student finds connection with Haitian school

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Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria has a strong tradition of Christian service. I never could have expected the personal connection my sister, Sydney, class of 2014, and I would have to a long-established partnership.

My family and I moved to Virginia from Haiti after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake. It was always my goal to find home when I was so far away from it. I attended St. Louis School in Alexandria while my older sister attended Ireton. We did not know that Ireton had an existing partnership sponsoring Louverture Cleary School (LCS). Sydney joined the Haitian Alliance Club, and I followed.

The club organizes the fundraisers and events Ireton hosts throughout the year for our sister school and the LCS students.

LCS is in one of the poorest areas of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, named Croix-des-Bouquet. In years past, Ireton students had the opportunity to participate in a service trip over spring break. Throughout the school year, Ireton hosts many activities to raise money for LCS. The Haitian Project, which supports and operates LCS, believes that education, particularly Catholic education is the foundation for ending poverty.

Every fall, usually on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, Ireton organizes a reverse Harvest Mass. This encourages the Ireton community to attend Mass and give up something they would like to buy and donate that money to LCS. This event helps LCS with funds to buy school supplies and other materials. For Christmas, the Haitian Alliance Club joins forces with the National French Honor Society to send Christmas cards to the LCS senior class.

Since 2004, at the end of Catholic Schools Week and in coordination with our feast week, Ireton hosts a semiformal dance known as the Winter Ball. Students are asked to skip the fancy meal before the dance, or the corsage or boutonniere and instead make a donation. The Winter Ball has raised $135,496 for LCS, which goes toward a year of education, including food and housing, for an entire grade of LCS students, plus half of another, or seven years of education for 10 LCS students. This year’s Winter Ball raised $9,000.

Our partnership connects Ireton students with others who are not as fortunate. It is an important reminder that not everyone everywhere has opportunities like they do. It is important for everyone to learn to give to those less fortunate. This relationship allows us, members of such a thriving community, to help our LCS students in Haiti.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018