I Love Dayton: Morton students pen letters of hope to tornado-ravaged Northridge

I Love Dayton

VANDALIA, Ohio (WDTN) — Morton Middle School students are helping lift the spirits of the Northridge school district as it continues to recover from the Memorial Day tornadoes.

Following the devastation, Northridge teachers put a call out to surrounding communities for letters of encouragement to welcome back students. Morton Middle School students answered that call.

“Some of us can’t even imagine what they’re going through,” says 7th grader Korey Snyder.

Students like Korey penned messages of hope to Northridge students who lost so much.

“It might just give them hope that they can get through this tough time,” says Snyder.

“When I saw all these letters coming in, I was like ‘wow this is really cool,’ and started reading through some of them, and it was just really heartwarming,” beams Morton Middle School Principal Shannon White. “They’re all good at heart, I think, and our job is to kind of help them find that.”

Hundreds of letters poured in.

“I was trying to give them confidence,” says 8th grader Abby Hilterbran. “Kept telling them that they were being very brave and that they’re all beautiful and strong and awesome in their own special way.”

The schools are rivals on the field, neighbors on the map, yet comrades in the recovery process.

“It could’ve changed their whole school year because now they know someone’s thinking about them,” says 8th grader Sidney Vieth.

For 7th grader Gracelyn Austin, the tragedy resonates.

“I myself was a victim of the tornadoes,” says Austin. “We had trees that were uprooted, and our deck was messed up. I had a pole go through our house.”

For Austin, the letters carry extra meaning.

“I put more thought, more energy into it than I’ve wrote any other letter to like, anyone else,” states Austin.

The letters are a lesson in kindness, leaving the Northridge school district with words of promise in a time of hardship.

“It just puts everything into perspective about how people can have it a lot worse and how you really shouldn’t take it for granted what you have,” says 8th grader Nolan Baker. “In the Dayton area, we’re all in this together.”

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