KnollwoodCaption: Diane Keaveny prepares to distribute tee shirts to the Knollwood fifth graders, while Kim Slate displays a copy of the book the students created to elicit donations for Sandy-related charities.

Press release from Fair Haven School District

The fifth-grade students gathered in their former fourth-grade classroom in late April 2014, the same way they had at around the same time last year.

Last year, the students were in Knollwood School Classroom 101 discussing poems they planned to write and publish to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy. This year, they reunited in the same place to receive accolades and a gift from one of the organizations that had benefitted from their hard work.

The student’s fourth grade teachers, Kate Mills and Tara Barnett, had encouraged them to express their feelings in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, which hit the area on October 29, 2012. Through the efforts of MaryAnne Kanacki Strulowitz, whose son Michael was in the class at the time, the poems were published in the fall of 2013 in a book titled Hurricane Sandy: A View from Room 101.

All proceeds from purchases of the book, available for a donation of $20, are slated for the Sandy-related charities Hope for Highlands and Sea Bright Rising.

“Your generous donation to Hope for Highlands really means a lot to us,” said Diane Keaveny, Administrator and Secretary to the Board of Directors for the Highlands Business Partnership, as she fought back tears. “We were just blown away by your kindness and hard work on our behalf.”

Keaveny was accompanied in the classroom by Highlands Business Partnership Facilitator and Administrator Kim Slate, who also expressed sincere thanks. Keaveny and Slate distributed tee shirts with an illustration of the famous Twin Lights lighthouse located in Highlands as well as the town’s official slogan — “Where the Jersey Shore Begins”  — as a token of gratitude for the students.

Poems in the hardcover 8.5 x 11″ volume include this one by Cate H. :

“First the lights blinked.

Then we saw a flash.

We had lost our power at last!

We knew this was bad.

Many people are sad.

Because they lost the things they had.

Sandy was vicious.

Sandy was mean.

Sandy was the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”

The book includes artwork as well as poetry by the students, and was fashioned with the help of Knollwood art teacher Rob Zupko and graphic artist Dominika Klausova, a Highlands resident who was affected by Sandy.

Proceeds from purchases of the book are donated in the name of all 24 students involved in the project.

Hurricane Sandy: A View from Room 101 is available at River Road Books, located at 759 River Road in Fair Haven. Books may also be purchased from MaryAnne Kanacki-Strulowitz at mkanacki1@gmail.com.

Hope for Highlands is a non-profit organization focused on assisting with the recovery and restoration of the downtown, business, and community infrastructure in Highlands.

Sea Bright Rising is a non-profit organization devoted to the needy and/or displaced residents and the general recovery of the town of Sea Bright.

Both towns sustained significant damage from Superstorm Sandy, and recovery efforts are ongoing.