Photos of the week: Senior Spring Break 2014

Forty-nine Rockwood students worked with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans Senior Spring Break, March 14- 21


After four days on the New Orleans Habitat for Humanity work site, students could see how much progress made in such a short period of time. “I was so incredibly proud of the house we built,” Erin Brock (12) said. “I can look at all of the pictures and see all of the work we did in such a short amount of time. I just think about the people who are going to live in this house and celebrate birthdays and eat dinner together, and that’s something we helped make for them.”

Friday, March 14

EHS students load up the bus for the trip to New Orleans.  Photo by Craig White.

Forty-nine students from EHS, LHS and RSHS took off on a ten-hour journey to New Orleans at 5:30 a.m. Seniors–inspired to use Spring Break to help a cause–signed up for the Habitat for Humanity senior trip, an annual tradition that began in 2007.

Sleep deprived from a Thursday night filled with packing and travel anxiety, the group accompanied by teachers and administrators from the three high schools made the trip to Louisiana.

Saturday, March 15

Caroline Taylor and Libby Zohner (LHS).  Photo by Craig White.

The seniors started the trip off bright and early at 7 a.m. to spend the first day in New Orleans on the job site. The 49 were split into seven teams spread among two housing sites at differing stages of completion.

At the first Habitat site, the foundation was just beginning. At the second, siding and roofing were to begin. Students jumped in from the first day.

“I thought my first day on the job was great,” Caroline Taylor (12) said. “I started off by breaking some cinder blocks, and then we were putting metal rods called rebar into the ground to build the foundation. Then, we had to tie them together with metal twist ties. I don’t know if I would call that hard work, but it was definitely tedious.”

Sunday, March 16

Maia Loesche, Nicole Pytlinski and Alicia Kilpatrick.  Photo by Craig White.

As Habitat for Humanity does not work on Sundays and Mondays, the RSD seniors had some time away from the work site for some sightseeing and fun in the city.

Sunday morning, students attended a Catholic Church service, a Baptist Church Service or spend some quiet time on a dock overlooking a nearby river. This time was the first time students were able to get to know one another and find some common ground between the schools.

Afterwards, the group enjoyed free time in the French Quarter before attending a New Orleans Pelicans vs. Boston Celtics basketball game in the evening. While some chose to go on a search for beignets, French pastries famous in New Orleans, others took to the street for shopping.

They ventured to Jackson Square saw all of of the shops and street performers around Bourbon Street.

“It was really cool, and the beignets were delightfully delicious,” Maia Loesche (12) said. “It was just really cool to be able to walk around New Orleans and see what we’ve seen in movies.”

Monday, March 17

Harry Guo.  Photo by Craig White.

Although the high for Monday was 47 degrees, the spring breakers made the most of the time they were given on the beach.

Spending the majority of the day in the sun on the sand, the group bonded over sand soccer, sun tanning, sand castle-building and exploring.

“We went to the beach, but it was kind of cold,” Harry Guo (12) said. “A few people were in the water, but we just chilled out.”

Tuesday, March 18

Caroline Taylor, Erin Brock and Casey Klages.  Photo by Craig White.

The following three days were spent on the work site with various dinners and activities planned in the evenings.

They visited Pass Christian, the school that Rockwood went to originally during the recovery period [after Hurricane Katrina] in 2007.

“After work that day we went and cheered on the Pirates [from Pass Christian High School in Pass Christian, MS,]” Casey Klages (12) said. “It was a baseball game in their district, but we sat in their stands and acted kind of like the Catpound and did cheers. ”

While visiting Pass Christian High School, students saw firsthand the extent of some of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

“There were plaques in the high school that showed the flood lines in the school,” Klages said. “The plaques were 13 feet in the air, and that wasn’t even the extent of the flooding. They were also saying there was three feet of mud. The second level was fine, but the first level was completely destroyed.”

It was nice to see the actual effects of voluntary efforts in the area, according to Klages. The history and the location of the baseball game allowed students to reflect on their own efforts with Habitat for Humanity.

Wednesday, March 19

Braiden Jones and Derek Hamm (RSHS).  Photo by Craig White.

Only two more days remained on the work site. Students spread along the sides, the front and back porches, the roof and inside the house with hammers, nail guns and power saws in hand.

“I worked on siding and on the beams on the outside of the house and windows,” Braiden Jones (12) said. “We had to work on the windows and make sure they were totally secure. This was an unforgettable experience. I love being around other people who love helping others and the community and family we are building here is one in a million.”

Thursday, March 20

Students building at the work site
Students building at the work site.  Photo by Craig White.

Under the supervision of six volunteers from Habitat for Humanity and AmeriCorps, the seniors became experts in their positions in the four days on the job.

Thursday, the inseparable RSD students had to wave goodbye to their house which is expected to be completed and ready to live in in less than a month.

Cherishing their last day together, the students spent every moment with one another, complete with an all-nighter, where about a third of the group chose to stay awake playing cards games around bonfire.

“We all bonded a lot more,” Nicole Pytlinski (12) said. “Saying goodbye was really hard. Luckily we all live close so we can all still hang out. We are going to have some reunions, and we’ve already planned a bunch.”

Friday, March 21

The entire EHS crew took a few minutes after the fourth and final day to goof around and admire their hard work.

There is no way to encompass the spirit of the journey made by these 49 students in words, but filled with memories and endless inside-jokes, the seniors returned to complete their final days as high school students.

“I think part of it is that none of us really came with our best friends so we were super open to having new friendships,” Erin Brock (12) said. “I didn’t go with my best friends, and I walked out with 48 new ones. This group has billions of inside jokes, and when I start to feel sad I think about them and literally laugh to myself.”

Not ready to leave the trip, Brock reminisced.

“The trip as a whole was utterly amazing,” Brock said. “It was the best thing I did in all four years of high school, and I 100 percent recommend it to anyone who is even thinking about going.”