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Staten Island School Refused to Let Hurricane Sandy Derail Their CHAMPS Program



Staten Island School Refused to Let Hurricane Sandy Derail Their CHAMPS Program

The first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation on Staten Island offered the George L. Egbert (31R002) Physical Education teachers and Wildcats CHAMPS coaches Christina Semey and Scott Berkins a chance to look back at the resilience of their students and school community.
In this school the CHAMPS program—which has featured a fitness club, floor hockey, softball, and handball—begins promptly at 6:45 a.m. and includes homework help as well as peer tutoring. This combination of fitness activities and academic support occurs in a safe environment with school staff and students focused on achieving their goals. The stability the program provides still resonates,  more than a year after the hurricane struck, as some students have moved away and others still live in trailers parked next to homes awaiting rehabilitation.

Immediately after the storm, the Wildcats were unable to participate in their CHAMPS program for two weeks. When they could finally return to school safely, more than 40 kids returned to CHAMPS in the late autumn darkness despite the destruction of their neighborhood.  The gym needed a face lift, lockers were unusable all year, and some equipment was lost.

However, the George L. Egbert School CHAMPS program took inventory, improvised, and moved forward. Christina Semey tells the story this way, “The fact that we were still able to have 40 plus students waiting at our doors so early in the morning, despite what they all had just gone through, was amazing. These kids are showing their leadership skills and one year later, we’re still here and dedicated to physical, mental, and academic fitness.”