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Our Symbol of Hope

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Kyle Neff

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Southwest Florida Snow
December 8, 2017

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With winds of over 150 miles per hour, Hurricane Irma brought nothing but devastation to the city of Marco Island. From collapsed concrete power lines to fallen trees that once stood 40 feet tall, destruction is a light term for the damage done – that is except for one area miraculously untouched by the wrath of the storm. Marco Island Academy, constructed completely of portable modulars, faced minimal damage from the storm. Though our school may not be completely unscathed, our community is stronger than ever.

Melissa Scott, the high school’s principal, couldn’t agree more. On Wednesday, September 6th, a group of the school’s staff, including Miss Scott, stayed to board up the campus in preparation for what was to come. While turning off the water for the school, Marco Island resident Bruce Osborne stopped by the school to talk to the staff and give them a gift: a flag that had been flown in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a military base in Tampa.

Miss Scott indicated that the reason he was dropping off the flag was because he “had a feeling that our campus would make it through Irma” and saying that, “we will have a campus to come back to.” Miss Scott then held onto the flag, taking it with her up north the day before the storm arrived. With little to no sleep for almost three days and no food to match, Miss Scott thought about nothing but what the campus might be like and how safe everyone was.

She finally received a call from an officer that had gone to the campus after the storm to check on it. “All this built up tension that I didn’t even know that I had, had suddenly been lifted. A relief like no other,” Miss Scott says, after discovering that the school was intact.

About a week later, a group of MIA staff and students helped clean up the brush and debris. Once school had started the following Monday, there was a special gathering of all the students and Miss Scott recited the story of the flag.

Hope. Resilience. Community. These are the words that she said symbolizes the flag for both Marco Island Academy and the overall community of Marco Island. “This flag is our symbol of hope,” she stated proudly. “Our reason to help our neighbor. Our proof that no matter what is thrown at us, we can endure and come back again stronger than ever.” She told us how much the flag means to her, and what it should mean to all of us. Once the speech was over, Jay Cartwright, a junior at MIA, raised the flag on the flagpole to show everyone what it means. The kindness of a stranger and our strength.

“This will stay with me for the rest of my life,”, Miss Scott said thoughtfully. She also went on to talk about the devastation that took place in a community close to Marco, “We need to come together as one big community and to help one another.” With how much they lost, a symbol of hope and reassurance like the flag would be very beneficial for somewhere like Goodland, that took a very hard blow from Irma. “I would love to see the flag be raised in Goodland once they get back on their feet.”

One object this powerful could help bring an entire town, state, or even nation together as a community and overcome any problems they may face. This flag began as a symbol of hope and reassurance, to one of resilience and community. The simple kindness of a stranger can change a disaster into a blessing. After seeing how much was left of our school after Hurricane Irma, one can easily say that Marco Island Academy is a strong school both inside and out.

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