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WHS celebrates fundraiser, reconnects with L.A. class

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CLASS: Students look toward the video camera as Courtney Cook’s classroom is projected onto the screen.
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TEACHER: Kathy Geible smiles as the audio and video feed connect with Courtney Cook’s classroom in Los Angelos.

by ANDREW MACIEJEWSKI - amaciejewski@wabashplaindealer.com

At first, Wabash High School Spanish teacher Kathy Geible said she was concerned about how well her advisory class would connect with the California class.

Her class grew up around rolling countryside and farmland, while Courtney Cook’s classroom is surrounded by urban sprawl, in Los Angeles.

As Geible’s class waited for the projector to light up with the faces of Cook’s students, the Midwestern students were eating pizza in the library, surrounded by books from all over the world.

Cook’s class doesn’t have a library, like they do. They just received their first complete set of books, “Down River,” for their classroom after Geible’s class raised money to send them across the country.

Geibles class sent Christmas decorations, cookies, pens, pencils and books to Cook’s classroom during the winter holiday season, but recently, they sent a full set of books to the class, too. Now, Geible’s students anxiously waited for the two computuers to connect. 

As soon as the video and audio feed from Wabash High School’s library connected to the classroom in Los Angeles, students on both ends of the live feed could hardly contain their excitement.

Some abandoned their pizza-filled plates to crowd behind Geible as she introduced herself to Cook’s classroom. Then, the students took turns putting on sunglasses, making peace signs and laughing across the live feed that connected the students.

Geible’s class has continued to collect money for Cook’s class. Her students take turns collecting money at basketball games and have received numerous other donations.

Now, Geible wants her students to relax and enjoy their successful fundraiser.

“What I had hoped the chat would do would be to give my students a sense of satisfaction in seeing their efforts pay off, that there were real kids they could talk with who are reaping the benefits of the efforts they had made,” she said.

The students were glad they could see how much their hard work was influencing those students’ lives.

“To give their class an opportunity to be able to read like we do is very heart warming,” said Jaqobie Griffith, one of Geible’s students. “It really gives me, personally, a sense of gratefulness. It shows me that we take a lot of things for granted and that not every school can have a library with hundreds of books that you can check out and take home anytime that you please.”

One of Courtney’s students said that she takes the book home at night to read ahead. Another student even reads the book to her classmates, Geible said.

One of Geible’s students, Peyton Sluss, said she was surprised how much the two classrooms had in common.

“The kids on both ends hammed it up and really enjoyed it,” Geible said. “It was very satisfying for me to see that she could point out some of her kids who really liked the book.”

Former Wabash High School teacher and Courtney Cook’s father, Roger Cook, was in the library, too. He was teaching a class as a substitute teacher, so Geible invited in him to celebrate.

He sparked the campaign to raise funds to supply his daughter’s classroom with books and educational materails.

“I left the library with my own big grin and a feeling of pride for my students, and as a bonus, her father got to share the experience too,” Geible said. “It was great for him to be able to talk with Courtney and kid around with her students, trying to imitate their wild gesticulations.”

The classroom is still collecting money for Courtney’s class. They plan to buy more sets of books so that the students in Los Angeles can continue to read and learn.

“Overall, this fund raiser was an amazing experience, and I loved every minute of it,” Griffith said. “I wish all of them the best of luck in life, and hopefully one day I might be able to meet some of them.”