Kofu Exchange Students Contribute to Tsunami Relief

Appreciation from the American Red Cross for support from the Kofu Exchange Program of earthquake and tsunami relief.

One year ago last Sunday, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred off the shores of the Tariku region of Japan. The impact of the earthquake and the tsunami that followed killed thousands of people, and left thousands more displaced and homeless.

For more than 25 years, students from Des Moines Public Schools have participated in an exchange program with Kofu, Japan. And in response to last year’s disaster, students from the Des Moines Public School Kofu Exchange Program went into action to help. They held a district-wide fundraiser to raise support for the relief efforts in Japan. The result was a check for $2,000 presented by students and their families to the American Red Cross in order to help their Japanese friends. 

At last night’s School Board meeting, two students who took part in the exchange program – Nicholas Bafia, a 9th grader at Roosevelt High School, and Benny Nielsen, an 8th grader at Merrill Middle School – along with Greg Grylls, the school improvement leader at Moulton School, described their work on behalf of the earthquake and tsunami relief effort. They also presented the School Board with a certificate of appreciation from the American Red Cross and thanked the school district for its support of the Kofu exchange program.

But the real thanks belongs to Nicholas, Benny, Greg and all of the students, teachers and families members who contributed to this effort, and strengthened the long-time relationship between Des Moines Public Schools and the people of Japan.

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