School Climate & Safety

A Special Bond

By Debra Viadero — January 10, 2006 3 min read

Classmates at Reservoir High School sometimes call Dalyn Jones and Anthea Fields the “Katrina chicks.” Left homeless by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, both teenagers migrated from the New Orleans area to Maryland in September. They met for the first time here when they showed up on the same day to register for 9th grade.

“When I first met her I was like, ‘I don’t want to talk to her,’ ” Anthea recalls. In the weeks that followed, though, the two became inseparable, sharing a bond that few of their peers will ever understand.

“We talk about Katrina almost every day,” says Anthea, 15, who lived on the east side of New Orleans until floodwaters ravaged the Gulf Coast city. She and her family were trapped for days as the water rose outside their apartment window.

Katrina’s Castaways
A Special Bond
Venturing Back Home
Miles Apart

They were eventually evacuated by boat and deposited on a nearby interstate. From there, a helicopter flew them to another highway, where they sustained themselves on sips of warm water and waited 17 hours for a bus to Houston’s Astrodome.

The family headed here after a friend showed up with plane tickets to fly them to waiting relatives.

“I have nightmares every day,” Anthea says.

Fourteen-year-old Dalyn had been living with her grandmother just across the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish. Her family left town ahead of the storm and drove to Atlanta.

When it became clear there was no going back, Dalyn flew here to stay with an aunt and finish the school year. Her grandmother moved to a motel near her nursing-home job in Kentwood, La.

To Dalyn, though, it’s all déjà vu. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan blew the roof off her grandmother’s house. The two had just returned to the refurbished home this past July—a month before Katrina would finish it off.

Unfamiliar Territory

Anthea and Dalyn say it helps to have someone else with whom to negotiate the unfamiliar terrain of Reservoir High. With 1,375 students, the suburban school is newer and bigger than those they left behind.

Both displaced from the New Orleans area by Hurricane Katrina, Anthea Fields, left, and Dalyn Jones have become fast friends since showing up on the same day in September to enroll at Reservoir High School in Laurel, Md. They say having each other has helped them adjust to unfamiliar surroundings.

Although it’s more racially diverse than most schools in Maryland’s 49,000-student Howard County district, Reservoir High has a bigger proportion of white students than the girls’ previous schools. Twenty-three percent of the enrollment is African-American, like Anthea and Dalyn, and more than half is white.

“At my old school, we had like two white people, and they acted like us people,” says Anthea, who attended the 750-student L.E. Rabouin Magnet Career High School in New Orleans.

With just 450 students, Dalyn’s former school, Boothville-Venice High School, served students from prekindergarten through 12th grade. It was more diverse than Anthea’s school but, to Dalyn, the racial boundaries were more fluid than at Reservoir High.

“Our community was kind of close-knit, and the races all intermingled,” says Dalyn’s aunt, Denita Jones, a Boothville graduate.

‘You Can’t Go Back to Nothing’

Much else is new, too: annual state exams, girls wearing pajamas to school, tightly structured physical education classes, and no uniforms. Anthea loved her old uniform.

“Before I left the house, I remember that I thought, I gotta bring my uniform,” she says, recalling the day she fled the floodwaters.

Anthea says she finds her coursework here easy; Dalyn is struggling in English and math.

“We were still on basic stuff like multiplication and subtraction and, up here, they was doing equations like 3x plus y, and I’m like, ‘What is this?’ ” Dalyn says.

Diane McCarthy, the girls’ guidance counselor at Reservoir High, says the school is gearing up to provide tutoring for students like Dalyn who need extra help. Both girls also take remedial reading classes.

When the pair arrived, educators gave them school supplies and store gift cards, says McCarthy. They also opened the school store so the girls could take their pick of clothes bearing Reservoir “Gator” insignia.

McCarthy still meets weekly with both girls, together and separately.

“We have a lot of kids who suffer from trauma and crises,” she says, “and we do our best to be sensitive.”

Even so, Dalyn and Anthea miss the friends they left behind, the food, and the distinctive New Orleans culture. In Louisiana, Dalyn had made the junior-varsity cheerleading squad. Anthea participated in the dance team and track and field. Here, they’re reluctant to try out for those activities.

“It’s like people you don’t really know are watching you,” Dalyn says, “and the dance team—the style of dance is way different.”

She hopes to return home when her grandmother’s house is rebuilt.

Anthea is less sure what she’ll do when the school year ends. Though she’d like to go home, she says, “you can’t go back to nothing.”


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety Former NRA President Promotes Gun Rights at Fake Graduation Set Up by Parkland Parents
A former NRA president invited to give a commencement address to a school that doesn’t exist was set up to make a point about gun violence.
Lisa J. Huriash, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
2 min read
David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, speaks during the CPAC meeting in Washington on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2010.
David Keene, the former president of the NRA, promoted gun rights in a speech he thought was a rehearsal for a commencement address to graduating students in Las Vegas. The invitation to give the speech was a set up by Parkland parents whose son was killed in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP
School Climate & Safety Opinion The Police-Free Schools Movement Made Headway. Has It Lost Momentum?
Removing officers from school hallways plays just one small part in taking down the school policing system.
Judith Browne Dianis
4 min read
Image of lights on police cruiser
School Climate & Safety Spotlight Spotlight on Safe Reopening
In this Spotlight, review how your district can strategically apply its funding, and how to help students safely bounce back, plus more.

School Climate & Safety Video A Year of Activism: Students Reflect on Their Fight for Racial Justice at School
Education Week talks to three students about their year of racial justice activism, what they learned, and where they are headed next.
4 min read
Tay Andwerson, front center, Denver School Board at-large director, leads demonstrators through Civic Center Park on a march to City Park to call for more oversight of the police Sunday, June 7, 2020, in Denver.
Tay Andwerson, front center, Denver School Board at-large director, leads demonstrators through Civic Center Park on a march to City Park to call for more oversight of the police Sunday, June 7, 2020, in Denver.
David Zalubowski/AP