IB CAS students are raising money for the trip in December
BLOOMFIELD — After hearing her older brother tell stories of how Bloomfield students helped the people of Cuba during a service trip several years ago, Jill Frazo couldn’t wait for her opportunity to help others.
Soon, she will have her chance.
Jill and other students in Bloomfield High School’s International Baccalaureate Creativity, Activity and Service program in December are planning to travel to the Dominican Republic.
“He got to go and help these people and well, that sounds like the most amazing thing ever, trying to help people who have lives that are more difficult than mine is,” said Jill, who will be a senior in the fall.
They will be traveling to an area of the country known as bateyes, which are settlements and homes to sugar cane workers from Haiti who often face discrimination and other hardships.
These sugar cane workers have some of the lowest standards of living anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, according to Bloomfield junior-to-be Lauren Bell.
Through the Monte Cocoa Housing Initiative, the students will be helping to install floors in homes, build latrines for community use, improve access to running water through construction projects, and build a home for a family during their six days of service.
Students also will be partnering with the school, which is run by nuns and relies on volunteers to teach lessons to the children.
Two years ago, a group of older Bloomfield students also traveled to the same area of the country, many of whom included family and friends of the 23 students preparing to go this year. Students this year voted for a return trip based on what they heard.
Megan Moreau, who will be a junior in the fall, said all her older brother talked about was how happy the people were, despite what they didn’t have or what they still needed.
“So I’m excited to go and be able to see that for myself and to change my perspective on the world,” Megan said.
For Felice Prindle, a counselor in the district and adviser who has helped organize all of the previous service trips, this will be an opportunity to see how those lives have evolved and are different, just as her life and those of other Bloomfield people have evolved and are different because of the shared experience.
“For me, personally and professionally, it was one of the most meaningful opportunities that I’ve ever had. In many ways, it was a very spiritual experience — and I didn’t consider myself a spiritual or religious person,” Prindle said. “I felt a level of hope while I was in the bateyes, more so than I’ve ever felt any place on the planet. I wanted to jump for joy when they picked to go back to bateyes.”
Ryan Pare, who will be a junior, said many of his friends went on a similar trip to Peru a year ago — and they never stop talking about the connections they made with the people who appreciate what students did for them and really just made a giant impact on their lives.
“To leave those memories with those people is something I’m really excited to do,” Ryan said.
Hearing so many different students speak about how the service trips impacted them is really powerful, said Addie Kirk, who will be a junior.
“Especially because you don’t get to hear that side of people in high school much,” Addie said.
In order to get there, students are raising money through a variety of events, including a car wash next Wednesday and garage sales next month, said Ava Manfre, who will be a junior.
Students also sold walking tacos and blender drinks at a recent field day event and sold food and stuffed animals at a middle school dance.
And expect more fundraisers. Coming up is another dance planned in the fall, an event where the school community takes over the Irish Mafia Brewing Co., a holiday craft fair in November and baked sales.
Or, as Jill put it, “a lot of work to go on a life-changing experience.”
Count Owen Saxby as another student who has seen how previous trips have moved people.
“I’m excited to help people down there and get that life-changing experience for myself,” Owen said.
And for Christian Reyes, who comes from Puerto Rico, has a unique opportunity to pay his good fortune forward.
“Coming here changed me,” Christian said. “I want to do the same thing, to help others in the same way.”
Kailee Lewis said most of the time it’s hard to be able to have the opportunity to go across the world and make a change for the better for families and communities.
Soon enough, the soon-to-be junior and some of her fellow Bloomfield students will have that opportunity.
“We’re going to build a family there and come back as a family,” she said. “I think that’s super important because we’ll always have each other.”
And that’s a sentiment Marissa Willix can agree on.
“We’re all going to grow as a family,” Marissa said.
Also planning to go on the trip are Peyton Acuff, Liv Caspersson, Allison Coffey, Jessie Crocker, Jana Day, Alex Dumbauld, Marissa Giglia, Jordan Harter, Sarah Johnson, Ali Klube, Sydney Roach, Adam Sheehan and Aleida Smythe.