MONTVILLE, NJ - On Sunday night, students from Robert R. Lazar Middle School, alongside Spanish teachers Jaime Novak and Maria D’Apolito, held a bowling fundraiser at Boonton Lanes to support victims of Hurricane Maria. 

The idea of aiding Puerto Rico arose during Hispanic Heritage Month, which took place from September 15 to October 15, 2017—the same time frame as Hurricane Maria. With this idea in mind, Novak and D’Apolito worked on side projects throughout the year to raise funds for the Hispanic Federation, an organization supporting recovery and relief in Puerto Rico. Through these miniature fundraisers, such as simply playing games during lunch, the Spanish language department had raised over $500 to donate prior to the bowling night. 

D’Apolito emphasizes the importance of her students learning the qualities of “leadership, caring for others, and empathy” throughout the process of creating this fundraiser.

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“I wanted them to think about giving back and how fortunate we are to have the blessings that we have,” Novak said. “A big lesson for me that I always try to instill in my students is [the idea of] community…to try to heighten their respect for each other.”

The fundraiser was set in motion later in the school year by seventh graders Arman Gupta and Jack Sherman, who are both enrolled in Novak’s Spanish course and put forth the idea of a bowling night event. The duo, along with Zack Friedman and Colin Volpe, all took the lead in coordinating and advertising the event, even making hats to promote their slogan “Somos Uno,” translating to “We are one.”

“We like to say we are one group. We think as one. We all want to help out,” Volpe said, explaining the meaning behind the phrase.

Gupta added, “It is also saying that not one person is a leader—everyone is a leader.” 

According to Friedman, the four boys, as well as other Spanish students, gave “110% effort” in organizing this event as the students worked as a team to earn as much as possible through bowling and even selling accessories and baked goods to aid the cause.

“Every life is valuable,” Sherman said. “Giving back is one of the best things you can do.” 

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