Goshen High School welcomes Flint students as part of growing partnership

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GOSHEN, Ind. (WNDU) - Just over a year ago, Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in Flint, Mich., leading to a federal investigation into the city's water crisis.

While thousands of families dealt with the detrimental effects of lead-filled water, students from Goshen High School were exploring ways to help.

International Baccalaureate (IB) students from GHS reached out to Southwestern Classical Academy, a fellow IB school that did not need any more water, but instead, a place to put the used bottles.

Soon, one small gesture turned into a growing friendship between the schools.

"Instead of providing water, which they had a lot and gracious donations, but providing recycling bins for all the excess plastic," said Emma Russell, senior, Goshen High School.

"It was very special to them and our kids had a hard time believing that they really did this just for us," said Sherry Mockles, IB Diploma Program Coordinator, Southwestern Classical Academy.

Last year, Goshen High School's IB students decorated recycling bins for Flint and delivered them in person.

"When somebody else wanted to come to our school, our city, it uplifted people. Somebody wants to come see us? Usually people just come to see us to talk about the water," said Bryce Kirby, senior, Southwestern Classical Academy.

Thursday, IB students from Southwestern Classical Academy traveled to the Redhawks' stomping grounds.

"When they were standing in the crowd and had posters they were actually wearing our schools shirts... that was very exciting," said Nolan Henson, junior, Southwestern Classical Academy.

Together, students played ice-breakers, re-connected and interacted with West Goshen Elementary School students.

And while the water tragedy is what brought them together, it wasn't a topic they needed to discuss.

"I think they just want to be known as normal high school students just like we do," said Russell.

"They wanted to take off and talk about other things. Things they have in common just because they're all teenagers," said Theresa Collins, IB Coordinator, Goshen High School.

They are also all International Baccalaureate students.

"It means a ton for our kids to be able to interact with kids from a different city, kids with completely different upbringing, but a lot of times, what we're finding out is speaking the same language. They're still kids and there are kids everywhere and it's great for them to spend time together," said Dr. Barry Younghans, principal, Goshen High School.

The partnership represents something good that came out of a devastating situation; one that will continue to flourish.

Dr. Younghans and the IB coordinators from both school say they hope this is a tradition that will continue for years to come.

Although the water quality has returned to acceptable levels in Flint, residents are still advised to use bottled or filtered water until all lead pipes have been replaced. This could take a few more years.