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Oceanography students team with leadership class to raise money for typhoon relief

The typhoon that struck the island nation of the Philippines earlier this month brought devastation of a scale unimaginable to many students in Wilsonville, a world away.

But the tropical storm that killed nearly 4,000 people, left more than 1,500 missing and injured more than 18,000 is still making waves here.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: KATE HOOTS - Megan Howe, a junior at Wilsonville High School, sorts the donations her oceanography class collected Nov. 21 for typhoon relief.Learning about the typhoon’s damage led to some powerful lessons not only about weather but also about how small efforts, combined, can make a big difference.

Jay Schaeur, a science teacher at Wilsonville High School, started the ripple effect. He showed students in his oceanography class images and statistics from the storm and discussed both the natural forces that caused the storm to form and its effect on the area.

“I asked for a show of hands of those who might be interested in working on a fundraiser, and 10 or so raised their hand. I ran it by (WHS Principal) Aaron Downs and then Cindy Anderson and her leadership class also started looking into it,” Schaeur said.

“We were studying tsunamis,” Megan Howe, a junior, said.

“He showed us data of how many people were affected and how much it would cost,” senior Jenny Mejia said.

“Anything counts. It doesn’t really matter. They don’t have anything. Their homes were wiped out. With this fundraiser, we can help,” junior Hannah Turner said.

“We do a lot of fundraisers here,” senior Jessica Mercado said.

So the students were familiar with the details involved in running a fundraiser, and they got to work quickly, making posters and fliers and planning a school-wide announcement. Word-of-mouth advertising was the best tool in their toolkit.

“If everyone at the school gave $1, we would make our goal,” Howe said.

“Anything can really help,” said Paloma Pena, a senior.

The students set a goal of $1,500 for the fundraiser.

“I think we’re going to beat it, by a lot,” Howe said.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: KATE HOOTS - WHS science teacher Jay Schauer and student Megan Howe work together to sort the money donated by students and staff.With $780 collected in just one day, her prediction seemed likely to come true.

The students collected more than $1,400 Nov. 20 and 21. Even better, their efforts inspired another group of students to donate a large sum of money, bringing the grand total to more than $1,800.

“We have a transitions class that works on job skills by baking and selling cookies during break on block days,” Schaeur said. “They decided as a class to donate two weeks’ worth of their sales to the effort.”

Those students donated $400. And the waves of good will haven’t stopped. Wilsonville students aren’t planning to stop thinking about the Philippines or looking for ways to help.

“We’re going to be making first aid kits and little survival kits in leadership,” Mejia said.

“We can all make a difference by pitching in a little bit,” Pena said.

The students will be donating the money to Mercy Corps specifically for aid to the Philippines. To learn more about storm relief efforts, visit Mercy Corps online at mercycorps.org.

Kate Hoots can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 112. Follow her on Twitter, @CommuniKater.

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