Senior Project Supporting Haiti Begins to Take Flight

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The lobby of the Senior Building was abuzz with excitement on Thursday evening as students, faculty, and community members opened their wallets for the chance to win prizes while simultaneously making a positive impact on a far-away community that is nevertheless near to the heart of a friend. 

Senior Ted Morency has familial roots in Haiti, and for his Senior Project, he is reconnecting with his heritage by working with Wings over Haiti. The nonprofit organization was founded by Sag Harbor–based artist Jonathan Glynn in the aftermath of Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake, which affected an estimated three million people and claimed more than 100,000 lives. In response to the tragedy, Glynn led the construction of a school in Croix-des-Bouquet, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. The institution, which opened the following year, now serves 140 students in grades K–7 and provides children with food and medical care.

Ted became involved with the organization last spring, and since then he’s raised more than $8,000 in support of their efforts. During the course of his Senior Project, he hopes to increase that total to $15,000. Ted’s fundraising efforts will directly benefit Wings over Haiti’s upcoming project, a second school based in Ranquitte, an agricultural village in northern Haiti. The school, slated to occupy a seven-acre plot, will include classrooms, soccer and baseball fields, a cafeteria, and a library.

In addition to fundraising, Ted is undertaking a comprehensive study of Haiti’s education system and how it has faltered as a result of the nation’s fluctuating economy. He plans to share the results of his research in the form of a multimedia project and public presentation, during which he will detail his findings as well as share details from his travels to Haiti and his work with Wings over Haiti.

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“Ted has a really special connection with this project because his family is originally from Haiti,” said Kevin Snyder, Ted’s advisor and Senior Project mentor. “Working on a project this close to his family, culture, and heritage has pushed him to do some of his best work.”

Ted’s first fundraising event, which generated so much buzz on Thursday, took the form of a basket auction featuring prizes donated by students, faculty, and members of the local community who sought to show their support. Popular items included three traditional Japanese lunches prepared by ESOL Coordinator Mami Takeda, a personal dress-down day sponsored by Head of High School Bill O’Hearn, chauffeur services by students, and monthly deliveries of homemade cookies by Science teacher Kim Borsack. Goods for auction also included Ross School spirit wear, LeBron X sneakers, and an XBox One. Other prizes, which only became available once a set amount had been raised, including dyeing the hair of Dean of Senior Projects Dale Scott a lovely shade of pink. The event ultimately raised more than $1,300 toward Ted’s goal. His next fundraising event will be held in mid-December.

“A project like this is tailor-made for Ted,” Kevin said. “He has such a big heart and shows such compassion for others. That he’s using his Senior Project to give back is fitting.”