Aspen students a long way from home |

Aspen students a long way from home

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

PEARLINGTON, Miss. ” It didn’t take 19 Aspen High School students on a relief mission to this town long to figure out this week that they were a long, long way from home ” and not just in miles.

“It’s like polar opposites,” said Kyla Sobieralski, a senior at AHS who lives in Carbondale. “We’re spoiled up there.”

Sobieralski was among high school students in various grades who chose to spend their Experiential Education week helping people in this unincorporated, impoverished town who are still trying to recover from Hurricane Katrina. She said it was rewarding to take the time to help other people.

English teachers Sarah Strassburger and Cerena Thomsen are leading the contingent, along with chaperone Tim Bean. The students broke into three groups Tuesday. One group patched nail holes and seams in fresh sheetrock at a house under construction. Another helped Sam and Lyn Bailey, the owners of a dog and cat rescue operation, sort through their mounds of belongings, still laying outside their damaged home. A third crew chipped in at a remodeling job.

Several of the kids picked the trip to Pearlington over more exotic Ex. Ed. opportunities.

“All my past Ex. Ed.’s have been all about me,” said Skyler Maclean, a senior from Aspen. “Last year, it was San Diego to learn how to surf. It’s good to give back.”

Sarah Schultz, a senior from Missouri Heights, said helping in Pearlington was her first choice for an Ex. Ed. activity. She said she has already found the experience “absolutely amazing” after just three days in town. She is considering working with the Peace Corp in the future. She wants to be part of people helping other people.

“That’s the way the world should be,” Schultz said.

See Wednesday’s edition of The Aspen Times for more on the Aspen students’ relief effort.

Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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