The wind and rain of Hurricane Sandy are long gone, but the physical devastation and the emotional wounds still linger in the neighborhoods of Staten Island, N.Y. During a visit to Staten Island schools on Thursday, Secretary Arne Duncan listened as students described—many with tear-filled eyes—how Hurricane Sandy has changed their lives. “We saw our house go under,” said one New Dorp High School student, explaining to Duncan that coming back to school and receiving love and support from her teachers has been a “big help.”
Duncan started the day by participating in a roundtable discussion with educators, parents and students at New Dorp High School. The participants described the important role the school played during and after the hurricane. During the visit, Duncan tweeted that the stories had been heartbreaking and inspiring:
Heartbreaking & inspiring stories from New Dorp HS (Staten Island) students impacted by Hurricane Sandy. twitter.com/arneduncan/sta…
— Arne Duncan (@arneduncan) December 13, 2012
Following the roundtable discussion, Duncan toured the greatly damaged Midland Beach neighborhood with United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew, and then stopped at PS 38 where he participated in a Toys for Tots distribution for local families.
“Amazing students,” Duncan said of the visit. “I’m so thankful for the help they’ve received, and that they’re actively helping others. The principals and teachers in the schools I visited here have built a remarkable sense of community. The children know they are loved,” he said.