Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains started the school year by buying school supplies for its peers in a public school in Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey.
This week, Stepinac, an all-boys school, was scheduled to ship 30-some boxes of supplies—book bags, printer paper, construction paper, colored pencils, pens, markers, crayons, glue, rulers, notebooks, folders and more—to a ninth-grade biology classroom at Klein Oak High School in Spring, Texas.
Stepinac is participating in the project in conjunction with a national Adopt-A-Classroom initiative to help schools hit by the hurricane that struck in late August.
Although Klein Oak High, north of Houston, was not seriously damaged during Harvey’s downpours, it had been turned into a shelter for those made homeless by flooding, and the start of the new school year was delayed, according to Stepinac.
Incoming Stepinac freshmen were mobilized for the cause during the school’s orientation sessions, which began after the Labor Day holiday.
The freshman biology class sponsored the campus-wide campaign to round up supplies from all grades at Stepinac.
“It’s really great to be able to help these people and, in doing so, grow in our faith, grow closer to God and hopefully make these people’s lives better in the wake of what just happened,” said freshman Jason Pietroluongo, 14, an alumnus of St. Clare of Assisi School, the Bronx.
“As we all learn through Mass and church and everything, part of our mission as Catholics is to help others,” Jason added.
Shopping carts were parked in the school lobby for students to drop their collected goods. Jason and his peers stayed after class throughout the week to help organize, sort and collate the materials.
Some parents participated by asking for donations of supplies from their workplaces, which they then shipped to Stepinac, said Frank Portanova, vice principal.
“When we talk about our role as a Catholic school, we go beyond ‘the ‘triple-r’s,’” Portanova said, “and talk about developing our students spiritually, and in terms of development of their souls. And service is a big part of that.”
The general buzz around the school is that “we’re all very happy to be able to help,” Jason said. The charitable endeavor has also helped him to get to know his new classmates, he said.
“It seemed like a natural and fitting way to have our ninth-graders help their counterparts 1,800 miles away who are looking to get back on their feet,” said Paul Carty, principal of Stepinac.
Stepinac’s baseball program is conducting a fund-raiser for those affected by recent hurricanes. The benefiting charity is the American Red Cross.