By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Rockdale News Community Spirit Award: RCHS selects Spirit Award winners
IMG 8369

When The Rockdale News went searching for a Rockdale High student and faculty member who best exemplified community spirit, it found two examples of citizens reaching beyond their local community.

Rachel Metallus, Rockdale High's French teacher and International Club Advisor displayed a generous spirit by setting up a non-profit organization to help new citizens to America.

The student award winner - one of Metallus' International Club students - Natassia Buckridge not only put together a stellar grade point average, and helped deliver relief through the International Club, but also spent some of her spare time helping a younger generation of Rockdale students.

Buckridge moved to Rockdale from Brooklyn, N.Y., two years ago, and immediately looked to continue a community service project she was involve with in her former home town.

In Brooklyn Buckridge was a member of The After School Corporation beginning in ninth grade and went to elementary schools predominately in under-privileged areas to read after school.

"I loved that program," Buckridge said. "That was the biggest thing I missed when I left New York. It was like my home away from home, working with those kids."

As soon as she got to Rockdale High Buckridge immediately sought out a similar after school activity, but couldn't find one in the area.

She went across from the high school to C.J. Hicks Elementary and asked if she could come after school to read to the students.
A teacher at the elementary school, Tonya Price allowed her to work with her class, and she has been doing it throughout the last two years.

Also during her two years at Rockdale, the 2010 community spirit award winner has been active in the international community of her high school.

During her junior year, she was walking through the halls and stumbled into a club hosting a meeting. The student conducting the International Club meeting invited her and her two classmates to stay and she has been involved ever since.

"I just kind of walked in on them one day," Buckridge said. "It just stuck with me, and I just kept going."

In her second year with the club, she was elected president and worked toward adding a more diverse group to the club. The Rockdale International Club now has representatives from every continent sans Australia and has worked to put on several events throughout the year, organized a Haiti concert, supported an orphanage in Haiti and sent money and clothes to earthquake ravaged areas.

"We try to share things about different cultures to promote accepting tolerance of different people," Buckridge said.

She will take those experiences on to Auburn starting in the fall, where she received a full Academic Presidential Scholarship.
"I'm very grateful for that opportunity," Buckridge said. "I know working with the community was a really big part of getting that scholarship."

Helping her work with communities in Haiti and abroad was Metallus, her International Club advisor.

Metallus also came to Rockale High two years ago, after spending eight years as a teacher in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
As a member of the Broward County School System, Metallus started a non-profit organization called H.O.P.E, or Helping Other People Excel.

H.O.P.E. was created to help newcomers into the country adapt to a new culture and language with an after school program in Ft. Lauderdale.

When she moved here, Metallus started the program up again in January, gearing it toward adults, and has two students from Romania who are faculty members at Rockdale.

"I don't speak their language, and they don't speak mine," Metallus said. "But with my (English as a second language) background I was able to help them."

Metallus' background is very strong in education, having helped her father teach since she was a young girl in Haiti.

"My dad was a school principal, and when we went to the new country, we had no school," Metallus said. "He started primary school for them, and in the evening my dad would use us to teach adults."

In Florida she worked with adults from age 26-76 who couldn't read or write in their own language, and had to learn that before Metallus transferred those skills to English.

Along with her contributions to H.O.P.E., she also has led the International Club to help her home country of Haiti.

Her brother, father and mother still live in the earthquake ravaged country, but all made it through the disaster unscathed.
"I'm thankful I was in a position to help them," Metallus said. "Because I could be there too, my sister, my dad, my brother and other family members were there. God kept them alive. Every house around my brother's house collapsed except my brother's house."