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Students get congressional recognition

Rep. Bill Owens spoke to an auditorium full of students and faculty in honor of four students Michael Rafferty (Right), Maddie Hutchins, Teesha Coolidge, and Christine Darrah

Rep. Bill Owens spoke to an auditorium full of students and faculty in honor of four students Michael Rafferty (Right), Maddie Hutchins, Teesha Coolidge, and Christine Darrah Photo by Katherine Clark.

— Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) and school officials Oct. 18 honored four AuSable Valley High School students for their humanitarian outreach during the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene.

“Our students have gone above and beyond to become community heroes,” High School Principal Aimee Defayette said during the award ceremony. “Heroes are alive and well, and they are here in AuSable Valley. I am thrilled for the kids and grateful Congressman Owens came here today to recognize their efforts.”

The four high school students honored in the noon assembly — senior Christine Darrah, senior Teesha Coolidge, junior Maddie Hutchins, and sophomore Michael Rafferty — helped the community through cleanup efforts, collection of school supplies, clothing, food, and in any way they could.

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Rep. Bill Owens gives four Au Sable Forks students, Christine Darrah. Teesha Coolidge, michael Rafferty, and Maddie Hutchins, the flag once flown over the Washington D.C. Capitol building for their outreach efforts.

During the assembly, Owens presented the students with an American flag that hung over the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. during the month of September.

“When I read the story in the paper about what the four of you did, I said to my staff, ‘We really need to do something because these people are demonstrating a commitment to their community,’ and as the principal said, this was something above and beyond,” Owens said. “You responded and that is the thing that we all need to do is respond to the region, for those who surround us, for those in our communities, for our families. That’s one of the great things about living in the North Country.”

Darrah, with the help of her mother, led relief efforts shortly after the storm left the region. She decided to get involved after seeing her great-grandmother’s house destroyed and felt helpless, wishing she could help her great-grandmother.

“I was talking to my mother about, 'I wish I could do something, I wish I could help,' and we got to talking and figured out what these people would need after they had been devastated was clothes, and they need to rebuild their houses because entire houses were destroyed,” Darrah said.

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