by JACOB F. KELLER
Rockford High School (RHS) students stepped up and donated their time, energy and even their allowance money to help the victims of the most powerful earthquake to ever strike Japan in modern times and the resulting tsunami that devastated the east coast of the main island back in March.
What started out as a small endeavor quickly grew as more and more students volunteered to raise money for the crippled nation. T-shirts and wristbands emblazoned with the “Hope for Japan” design created by Kumiko Perroud were sold first at the Ram Store inside the high school before students arranged to have a table set up during all three lunch periods to sell the items and collect donations.
It was an effort that students, staff and the school district supported wholeheartedly.
In total, $1,450 was raised as part of a joint fundraising effort between the high school and the Japanese Heritage Society in Grand Rapids.
The icing on the cake came when some of these same students personally delivered the donation check to the Japanese Red Cross in Osaka in July. This was part of a larger field trip arranged by the school district and Megumi Wessely, the school’s Japanese language teacher who is a native of Japan and an American citizen having immigrated to the U.S. in the 1980s.
Since 2000, “Meg,” as her friends call her, has been educating Rockford students not just about the Japanese language but also about the culture and traditions of Japan. Her contribution and enthusiasm throughout this process cannot be measured.
While Rockford and Japan may be separated by more than 6,000 miles, they have been united by culture, language and now hope for better days to come for those families affected by the Earth’s violent and deadly upheaval.