The Catalyst

Student passion project responds to hurricane disaster relief in Puerto Rico

Keira Cruickshank, Staff Writer

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For their passion project, seniors Jillian Antunez, Lindsay Berardi, and Keira Cruickshank are raising money to provide disaster relief for Puerto Rico.

Last fall, the country was devastated by two major hurricanes, Irma and Maria. Many people were left without electricity, running water, shelter, and the necessary government funding for disaster relief. More than one hundred days later, much of the island still lacks the resources needed to rebuild.

The seniors are collaborating with TriSchool Productions and its spring musical “West Side Story” to help raise awareness and money. The play is a take on “Romeo and Juliet,” telling the story of Puerto Rican immigrants in 1950s New York City. They struggle to adapt to a new way of life amid hostility from businesses, law enforcement, and neighbors.

The seniors were inspired by the play’s heartbreaking story and wanted to use its influence to inform others about what is happening in Puerto Rico since the struggles of the island have been greatly underreported in recent news.

For example, a surprisingly low number of Americans know that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory. In 1952, it became an autonomous commonwealth, meaning that it has its own independent government, yet remains in American control. Its people are American citizens, pay federal taxes, and can enlist in the U.S. military, but they do not have the power to vote in U.S. elections.

The U.S. has the same responsibilities to Puerto Rico as it does to mainland America, which includes disaster relief. Unfortunately, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has announced that it is ending its relief efforts on the island.

Donations to the student passion project “Estamos Unidos por Puerto Rico” can be made at its fundraiser page: All donations will go to the Hispanic Federation’s Unidos: Hurricane Relief Fund.

Donations can also be made by buying tickets to Tri-School Productions’s “West Side Story.” Performances will be held at the Gellert Auditorium at Serra HS on March 16, 17, 23, and 24 at 7:30pm and March 18 at 2pm. More information can be found at

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Student passion project responds to hurricane disaster relief in Puerto Rico