Oak Grove Joins Afghan Drive

Oak Grove seventh grader Ryan Cardwell and Liisa Hyvarinen Temple
Oak Grove seventh grader Ryan Cardwell and Liisa Hyvarinen Temple
CLEARWATER (2009-09-22) -

The United Nations recognized International Day of Peace Monday. A school in Clearwater got in on the act as students heard the story of a Tampa airman Rex Temple and his effort to distribute school supplies in Afghanistan.

Benjamin Smet spent eight years in the Navy before he became Spanish teacher. So, he identifies with Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple and his school supplies project for Afghan children.

"With my ex-military background and becoming a teacher and his opening line "The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future" just hit me," Smet said. "And, I decided this is something that we can do at Oak Grove Middle School, Pinellas County. And we can make a difference."

Smet talked about making a difference during the first meeting of the Multi-Cultural Committee. It's similar to a student club where students organize and participate in events that aid in understanding and learning about other people and places.

At the organizational meeting, Temple's wife, Liisa Hyvarinen Temple, showed students a news story and talked about her husband's year-long deployment. She told them about Temple's conversation with an 8-year-old Afghan boy which started Temple collecting pens, paper and other supplies for Afghan kids.

Afterward, seventh grader Ryan Cardwell offered the first donation, some notebooks and paper.

"All these kids don't have a surrounding for a classroom." Cardwell said. "They have to sit on concrete."

Oak Grove is one of several schools and in Florida, Mississippi and Ohio that have responded to Temple's call to help Afghan students.

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