Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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November 18, 2012

Goshen Middle School students give their hearts to Henryville

GOSHEN — A group of talented art students, a guidance counselor with a vision and a teacher with a kiln gave their hearts to Henryville.

Not the beating heart variety, but hearts of compassion, giving and ceramic.

Goshen Middle School Guidance Counselor Jan Desmarais-Morse said she was driving to work after an F5 tornado tore through the small town of Henryville, Ind., in the southern part of the state. The tornado severely damaged the schools there.

“What could we do?” Desmarais-Morse asked herself as she was driving.

“I must have a thing for hearts,” she said, because the answer that immediately came to her was “from our heart to yours.”

When she got to school, she asked eighth-grade art teacher John Nafziger what he thought.

Nafziger was on board and created eight different molds for ceramic hearts.

A small group of 12 to 13 art students and seven to eight staffers then painted, stamped and glazed the hearts, which were then fired.

Desmarais-Morse said that the “stamp” was actually a letter H made of pasta, which would burn off in the kiln.

Four of those art students were Yadira Rodriguez, Alejandra Rascon, Annelise Wiebe and Katja Norton. The Goshen High School freshmen were eighth-graders at the time.

Alejandra said that the artists would stay after school for an hour or so. they would put the designs on the ceramic hearts.

“And make them cheerful,” Yadira said.

The project lasted about two weeks.

Yadira said, “For me, I would make about three a day. Honestly, I would take my time with it.” The group produced about 30 a day altogether, she guessed.

After the hearts (and a couple of pairs of earrings) were made, Desmairis-Morse sold them at school or — in many instances — would sell the pin off her chest to whoever wanted one.

The pins cost $10 each and were sold up until fall. The pins garnered $430. And the unsold pins were sent along with the money to Henryville Middle School in late September or early October and designated that it be used to counsel students, perhaps even using it to take students to visit colleges.

The school counselor in Henryville put out an email to see if anyone wanted to purchase the hears and was inundated with requests.

Knowing that so many students in Henryville were going to benefit from their deeds, made each of those who participated feel proud and willing to help again.

Yadira said, “I felt proud to help.”

Alejandra agreed, “It felt good knowing you helped someone..

“To help even though it was so small,” Yadira said, is better than nothing.”

Alejandra said, “It was life changing, you know.”

Katja said, “There we did something right. Helping other people ... it’s a good experience.”

Annelise added, “It was cool to use things we like to do” to help out.

“Painting is really fun to do,” Katja said. “It’s creative and fun and the people buying (the pins) had something to remember and they helped a good cause.”

Desmairis-Morse felt the same, but she got a little more out of the experience — she got to see a different side of the students. It was a fun environment for the students to be themselves. “I learned things about them and made connections,” she said.

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