Montessori students walk for Mexican earthquake victims

Three organized walkathon raising $4,000 for disaster relief

STARTING POINT: Maria Montessori School students set out on Oct. 20 walkathon that raised $4,000 for earthquake victims . (PHOTO COURTESY CHLOE PEQUEUX)

Students at Maria Montessori School on Brentcliffe Road put together one of their strongest fundraising campaigns since its inception in 1975.

Led by students Matilda Bishay, Zoe Chong and Aiden Plock, 50 students walked through Sunnybrook Park and raised over $4,000 for the victims of the two September earthquakes in Mexico — one with its epicenter 55 km south-by-southwest of Puebla.

That epicenter played a factor in deciding which cause the students would donate to.

Principal Jim Brand explained that students try to raise money for a particular cause they deem important, and many of the students were paying attention to the news.

“We were seeing many disasters in the news and they were looking at hurricane relief,” he told the Streeter. “We had a discussion about the Mexican earthquakes. They felt that Mexico would have less help and access to funds than the United States.”

In the past, the students have successfully held walkathons, so Bishay, Chong and Plock continued that path Oct. 20 with the assistance of teachers Theresa O’Neill and Lynn Jung.

Matilda Bishay said she was happy with the results in a phone interview.

“It was fun. I’ve done two walkathons before that,” she said. “Before it seemed really hard, but after I’ve done it, and look back it was really easy, and I liked it a lot.”

Previous walkathons included one in honour of their fellow student, Georgia Walsh, who was killed by a car three years ago. The walkathon held in October was also in honour of another former student, Andrea Regardas, who was at the school for a year on an exchange program. She is from Puebla, the region most affected by the earthquake on Sept. 19.

The Montessori curriculum is driven by the students with little dictation from adults.

“Four thousand dollars is pretty incredible for a school of 120 students and an organizing committee of three students,” Brand said. “Normally we’re dealing in smaller quantities. We’re looking at a bag of twoonies and loonies, and the school writes a cheque to whatever charity.”

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