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Haitian-American Students Remain Hopeful Despite Trickle Of News

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Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

By: Denise Tejada

Toussaint L'Ouverture High School for Arts and Social Justice is located in Boynton Beach, Florida and has a 180 person student body that is 85 percent Haitian. According to Assistant Principal Sandy Blovad the school is known in the community as a good school to come to, if you've recently arrived to the country and need help learning English.

Youth Radio spoke to Bricely Jacques--a 20-year-old Haiti native who was in school when he heard that his hometown suffered from a 7.0 earthquake. "When school is over, I'm trying to get home" Jacques said "when I heard that, it shake me."

Jacques has a 23-year-old sister (who is also the mother of a three-year-old child) along with cousins in Port-au-Prince. He has yet to hear from them. Every day since the earthquake he has been desperately trying to get a hold of his sister and says he remains hopeful. "I keep calling, but she is not pick up... I don't know if she is ok," Jacques said. "I called my mom and my mom said 'you keep looking for her'..."

Unfortunately on Thursday the school confirmed the death of one their student's grandparents. Assistant Principal Sandy Blovad said this may be the first but "there is going to be a lot more to come..." Students and their families are having difficulty confirming deaths because they are struggling to establish contact with family members.

Blovad went on to say, "I think some kids are probably in denial and still trying to wrap their arms around it, because it's pretty devastating." Jacques more or less echoes that sentiment. He avoids watching media coverage about Haiti, "I don't wanna watch it; that's why I do not cry. If I watch it, it's gonna make me cry."

Since the earthquake the school has had a psychologist on campus as well as community counseling groups. Teachers are also letting students express their feelings about the earthquake devastation in class. Since the school is fairly small, Blovad says staff members are hurting for the students and are making themselves available in whatever ways they can. Blovad says. "These are kids who have family in Haiti. Everybody is dealing with it in their own way."

Despite all the anguish, Blovad says the school needs to get back to its routine. "We just finished lunch and there was a soccer game going on in the back and a basketball game going on." And not knowing the well being of family and friends 741 miles away in Haiti, continuing routines might be the best thing the Toussaint L'Ouverture High School can do for its students.

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