Senior Maddie Perrin sells root beer floats during the SBHS lunch with profits going to support the Northfield community.

Rebel Relief Offers Support to Flood Victims

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Wednesday September 28, 2011

Teenagers in Big Picture South Burlington and at South Burlington High School didn’t question if they would help victims of Hurricane Irene in Vermont; they knew they would. They did, however, have to figure out how and when to offer this support.

For students enrolled in Big Picture South Burlington, the student interest-inspired educational program located at South Burlington High School, the answer to how to help came fairly quickly. Students participated in a full volunteer day on September 1 in Moretown, a community devastated by the flooding caused by the hurricane, where they learned first-hand what the impact had been on individuals and families.

“It was so much worse than I had expected,” reflected Big Picture advisor Jim Shields, “with many houses seeing water levels of five to six feet. We hauled mud from flooded homes and basements and picked up household items littering all the yards and river beds (tires and blankets, for example, that got stuck in trees when the water receded).”

The work left a deep impression on Big Picture junior Rachael Dingman: “What surprised me the most was how almost everyone in the town was doing something to help out with the clean up. People were everywhere: pulling things out of basements, picking up trash, or passing out water bottles to volunteers. It was really nice to see the town coming together to get the job done.”

Big Picture’s commitment to help also showed Ms. Dingman “how important it was that volunteers were there to help out because without people coming to volunteer, there would’ve been no way that [town members] could have done all that work on their own.”

Significant efforts to support Vermont flood victims are in place closer to home as well. At South Burlington High School, those efforts include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Seniors in the class of 2012 are collecting boxed and canned food at high school sports games to donate to the Vermont Food Bank.

• The SBHS football team presented Rutland High School with a donation collected from athletics, students, staff, and the school to support Rutland High School students affected by the storm.

• The SBHS girls’ soccer teams organized a bake sale to support flood relief efforts.

• Students and staff have engaged in efforts to support Harwood Union High School, which serves Waterbury students.

These dedicated Big Picture and SBHS students will remember this experience long after the newspaper headlines have disappeared, and the lessons learned about human perseverance run deep, as Ms. Dingman noted: “What I will remember the most about going to Moretown is how even though everyone was devastated about what happened, everyone was so kind. People had positive attitudes and just wanted to help out. I remember one lady there who kept checking in with us and asking us if we needed anything, like water or gloves.”

To donate to the relief efforts of Big Picture South Burlington and South Burlington High School, please visit the high school’s webpage at

SOURCE: Susie Merrick, Contributor