A group of 20 Rocky Hill High School students and six teacher chaperones will be traveling to New Orleans for the February vacation to help build homes for Habitat for Humanity in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.
Last year, 32 students worked on framing, installed flooring and dug foundations at three different job sites in Lower 9th Ward.
"Everyone gets hooked," said Rocky Hill High School Principal Mario J. Almeida, who is one of the main organizers of the trip along with English teacher Dave Fortier.
This year, students will travel down to New Orleans from Feb. 21 to 27. This is the fifth year of the trip.
However, students must complete 10 hours of community service before they can be eligible to go to on the trip. About two weeks ago, some students volunteered their time to help cleanup the YMCA in Portland.
Faaiza Bhura wanted to help the people of New Orleans after learning about her parents' struggle. Her parents are from India and had to overcome several obstacles in life. They taught Bhura the value of volunteering.
"I wanted to help out. I always liked helping out others. I wanted to see the culture and gain the experience."
Senior Cara Pizzo said the people of New Orleans were thankful for the volunteers. The owners of the home helped the students repair their dwelling and were grateful for their service.
"They were appreciative and thankful for the help, even the people in the neighborhoods."
Student Rachel Corey was encouraging by all the repaired homes.
"New Orleans is on its way to rebuilding."
Almeida felt the opposite way and said there are blocks of homes that have not been touched since Hurricane Katrina. The community members "have given up on politics and the government" but love the volunteer groups and the college students, according to Almeida.
"They think we are the only hope they have."
The students at Rocky Hill High School lead very different lives than the people in the Lower 9th Ward, Almeida said.
"It is a learning experience," Corey said. "It was great. I love to help people. It is something that I want to do in the future.”