Marianas Variety

Last updateTue, 10 Dec 2019 12am







    Monday, December 9, 2019-12:11:33P.M.






Font Size


Hopwood students thank lawmakers for $250K appropriation

TWELVE student leaders from Hopwood Middle School on Thursday visited the House of Representatives to personally thank its members for appropriating a total of $250,000 for the repair of their typhoon-damaged campus.

“We were so happy when we learned that they donated money to us. It is a step further to going ‘home,’” Hopwood Middle School Student Council president Emma Chong said.

Click to enlarge
Hopwood Student Council officers on Thursday visited the House of Representatives to thank lawmakers for appropriating $250,000 for the repair of their typhoon-damaged campus.  Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

The source of the funds was the annual casino license fee paid by Imperial Pacific International.

The Hopwood students were accompanied by vice principals Victorino Borja, Karen Alla and teacher Vinni Orsini. The students gave each lawmaker customized cards and letters.

The students also took turns in speaking to the House members to express their desire to return to their campus.

Rep. Tina Sablan said “it was moving to hear so many of them refer to their old campus as ‘home.’”

Hopwood students are currently attending classes on a temporary campus in Koblerville.

“Those students are enduring an incredibly challenging situation…one that is compromising their sense of safety and the quality of their education,” Sablan said. “They are amazingly resilient, but they deserve so much better.”

She said members of the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation came together to make local funding available specifically for Hopwood repairs. “It indicates our collective recognition, across all our precincts, of how serious the situation is for our Hopwood students, and how imperative it is that we get them out of those tents in Koblerville as soon as possible.”

She added, “Today the students told us how much it means to them, to be able to look forward to returning to regular classrooms and a sense of normalcy at the Hopwood campus that so many of them described as ‘home.’ My hope is that the funding will be transferred to [the Public School System] as soon as possible, so that the repairs can begin as soon as possible.”

Rep. LJ Castro, for his part, said: “Seeing the students visit us today was truly a great experience. In the last year or so, the school has gone through so much and knowing that they appreciate whatever we can do to make their situation a little easier is truly something worth cherishing. I hope that through continued work between the members of our delegation, the leadership of the Public School System, and the stakeholders of Hopwood, we can achieve further progress in bringing our Hilitais home to Chalan Piao and full recovery from Super Typhoon Yutu.”

Hopwood Middle School Student Council president Emma Chong said they are grateful for their temporary campus and for all the other things that have been provided to them. “But the situation is not very good…. We are in dire need of help. We need an actual campus with walls.”

The students told the lawmakers they were concerned about their health. “The air-conditioning is sucking up dirt because the vents are outside,” Chong said, adding that their temporary classrooms are also very hard to clean.

She said there were days when students had to deal with rodents.

“Recently, in one of the 8th grade classrooms, a baby rat fell on one of the tables in the middle of the class,” she added.

She said another class had to be relocated to the library because of the foul smell of a decomposing mouse found outside the tent.

Rep. Joseph Leepan T. Guerrero assured the students of the Legislature’s support. “Regardless of what school it is, we will share what funds we have.”

House Minority Leader Ed Propst told the students that lawmakers will work together to find a solution.