Graduation Day in Sassier

Matthew Can’t Defeat Us! Graduation Day in Sassier

What a celebration for the 24 graduates of College Pierre Toussaint! Wish you could have been there. It would have been easy for the twenty four 13th Graders at College Pierre Toussaint to quit this past year-but they didn’t.

Nine months ago, Hurricane Matthew tore through Sassier, destroying most everything in its path. A massive Category 4 storm, with 100+ MPH winds and 20+ inches of rain, Matthew damaged or destroyed nearly every house; washed away crops and animals; and knocked down most of the trees. Left behind was a grey landscape resembling the aftermath of a huge forest fire.

But College Pierre Toussaint was left standing, undamaged; not only the building, but also the spirit of Pierre Toussaint in the hearts of these students. Many took shelter from the Hurricane in the College’s reinforced concrete buildings, wondering if they would survive. They returned home to find only devastation.

How could they start over? How could they go forward? Did they even have a future?

Remember Pierre Toussaint, they told themselves. Pierre Toussaint, the 19th Century Haitian slave who came to New York, bought his freedom, and became a successful businessman. As a Black person in a White person’s world, he faced discrimination, hate, and violence; but he never gave up. He was known for his kindness and generosity, serving all of those who needed help-Black and White. Many believed he was a Saint among them.

What would Pierre Toussaint do? The students began to rebuild-lives, homes, hope. Even though school could not begin for more than a month after the Hurricane, they have worked hard to make up for the time lost. Even though most lost their school books and supplies, they shared and collaborated. It would have been easy to quit…..

The Year of four Ps-Perseverance, Persistence, Patience and Prayer

Even the Graduation ceremony itself required the 4 Ps. Matthew had destroyed the Parish Church, where the Graduation ceremony normally occurs. Heavy rain the night before left the outdoor venue too muddy. So, a makeshift arrangement on the gallery of the Parish Center had to suffice.

For our graduates, it made no difference, a mere inconvenience. The Spirit of Pierre Toussaint had brought them through much more. Nothing was going to stop them from celebrating their hard won Graduation.
Their faces tell it all. They achieved far more than most High School graduates ever do. They live the 4 Ps-they are the Spirit of Pierre Toussaint.

Thank you all for your support of College Pierre Toussaint and the students in Sassier.