The School Zone: News


A year after Hurricane Harvey flooded out many area families, the students, staff and families at Cornerstone Academy conducted a fundraiser to assist Californians driven from their homes by devastating summer wildfires.

The two-week, “pay it forward” fundraising effort at the district charter middle school has raised more than $5,300 so far, and donations are still being collected through a special Go Fund Me account link. (Link:

A colorful Volkswagen bug, a local art car decorated with pink flamingos, helped raised money during its visit to the Westview campus.

In the aftermath of Harvey, Cornerstone Academy and impacted students were adopted last September by Oceanside Middle School in Thomaston, Maine. Students there were able to raise $7,000 to help families affected by flooding. They also wrote letters to each Cornerstone student.

When school began this year, Cornerstone decided it was time for its community to “pay it forward” and help another school.

With support from the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS), the SBISD campus began raising money to help Grant School, a K-8th grade school in Redding, Calif., where about 40 families lost their homes in the dangerous wildfires known as the Carr Fire. 

In part, the California school was also chosen for this outreach due to a Cornerstone teacher having family connections to that city and the recent fire.

For the two school weeks from Oct. 1-12, National Junior Honor Society students stood outside Cornerstone in the morning for donations during student drop-off times, as well as in the cafeteria during lunch. 

One donor goal was to fill the VW bug with pennies as many times as possible. The fun-sized art car and donor campaign even had its own hash tag, #Car4Carr.

The Go Fund Me page had its own YouTube video to explain such a good cause, too. On campus, Cornerstone students competed by grade level.

“The National Junior Honor Society at Cornerstone Academy prides itself on being a service organization for the community,” said teacher and honor society co-chair Laura Walpole. 

“The #Car4Carr fundraiser was another example of how our students stepped up to support those in need. NJHS students signed up for shifts to collect money and to keep records of who donated in order to add the ‘fun factor’ into a competition between the grade levels of our student body,” she also said.

Cornerstone teacher Catherine Wood-Sponsel’s own parents were evacuated during the Carr fire, making this fundraiser very close to her own heart.

“I was so impressed with Oceanside’s generosity to us following Harvey that helping Grant [Elementary School] seemed like a logical move to allow our kids to pay forward the kindness,” she said.

The Cornerstone Academy fundraising appeal was featured in the Redding newspaper, the Record Searchlight, recently. To read the newspaper story, please visit:

To help donate to Grant Elementary in Redding, Calif., please visit: