Jacaranda Heroes, SAS Heroes

Today our school is incredibly privileged to host founder of the Jacaranda Foundation and CNN hero, Marie Da Silva. Her school brings in children whose families and lives have been devastated by the AIDS epidemic.

Our school has been supporting the Jacaranda School for over a year now - our own Shanghai Student Film Festival raised over a thousand USD for the Jacaranda School, and we were able to donate shirts and ipods with recorders for them to start their own podcasts.

My good friend and colleague Jerry Koontz took this photo of the students in their S2F2 gear:

But the money that we raised was a drop in the bucket compared to the thirty thousand dollars that the school raised through various fundraisers, school events, and donations throughout the year. As a result, the Jacaranda school was able to install new bathrooms. This may sound like a minor achievement - but this was a huge advance. Some of the students at the school had never even seen a toilet with running water before.

18 of our students went with a few faculty members to see the Jacaranda School this summer, and spend some time with the students there. This effort- the trip, the fundraising, and the vision, was a result of the tireless efforts of our school's Habitat for Humanities coordinator, Rob Burke.

In our assembly today, we're watching a video of the trip to Malawi, and De Silva just gave us a heartfelt 'thank you' to our students. It was a beautiful moment to witness, as the students could visualize how all of their efforts and hard work paid off. Her speech is so impressive and empowering -she's explaining the importance of giving back to your community no matter where you are. You can always extend your hand to help someone.

As I sit in this assembly I admit I'm a bit star struck - not just because of our visiting CNN Hero, but because of the heroes I see in our own staff and students.

Image of Marie De Silva from CNN.com.

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