Positive Outcomes from Sandy's Devastation
In October of 2012, Superstorm Sandy had a devastating impact on many New Jersey towns. As a Superintendent, I have been quoted as saying that “we did not learn how to lead through such an experience at Superintendent School.” This was clear to me as I entered my district with my family in tow the morning after the storm. I was greeted with 100 senior citizens who had to be evacuated and were now being housed in the cafeteria of Central School. They needed a place to stay and my Board of Education immediately supported the decision to have it be with us. It was also very important for me to get to Memorial School in Union Beach. As most are aware, Union Beach was devastated by the storm and half of our school community at Keyport High School lives in Union Beach.
The next day began with Central School serving as a shelter for approximately 11 days. This was certainly unplanned, but within a day we had a full service shelter that was staffed and supported by the entire community. I could not have been more proud to see my students being right there in the mix to volunteer. The generosity continued when Mr. Annibale needed to relocate a building full of students in order to have Memorial School repaired. The Board of Education rose to the occasion once again and authorized us to accept Grades 6-8 at Keyport while their building was under construction. Teachers and students seamlessly shared classrooms and materials and before you knew it, it was like Union Beach was always here.
As I reflect over two years later, I see even more positive outcomes that resulted from the devastation that Sandy caused to our community. Our district is currently the recipient of a grant from Centra State Medical Center thanks to Nikki Francis who is the Mom of two of our students. This grant allows our seniors in high school to work collaboratively with the seniors in the town of Keyport. The relationship that was created between the seniors in town was beneficial to all and this grant strengthens this relationship.
Keyport is also fortunate to be working collaboratively with Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention. As the recipients of grant funding that allows the district to provide Project TALK, Strengthening Families, and Turning the Tides for Youth and Families, the school community benefits from the provision of a comprehensive school-based life skills program, communication skills and effective conflict resolution techniques. Turning the Tides, is specifically provided to students, their families, and personnel and has been awarded to the district as a result of the direct impact of Superstorm Sandy.
Community Day which is scheduled for May 16, 2015 at Central School and is a great opportunity for students, staff, and the community to view the progress our students are making. The event will highlight the academic accomplishments of our students in addition to the services that are available to them on an ongoing basis. Centra State Medical Center and Barnabas Health Institute are planning to attend. In addition, the Keyport Senior Center will be represented. I personally look forward to Community Day as it certainly provides the opportunity to reflect upon the positive outcomes that have resulted from the Superstorm Sandy.