Veritas Christian Academy raises $3K for quake victims

Through the school’s “Koi Project for Japan Relief,” Veritas Lower School art students created paintings of koi fish that were auctioned at the school’s Grandparents’ Day on April 21.

The project hit a milestone Thursday as students and faculty presented a check for $3,000 to Samaritan’s Purse.

The Christian nonprofit organization, partnering with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, will use the money to help victims of March’s 8.9-magnitude quake in Japan.

The school’s art teachers, Jennifer Lipsey Edwards and Elisa Petree, were working on lesson plans about koi at the time of the earthquake. Students came to them wanting to know what they could do to help.

“I realized it (the project) was a way to make a cultural connection with what was happening over in Japan,” Petree said. “The meaning of the word ‘koi’ is ‘perseverance through adversity.’ “

“The children just really started grasping onto the idea of the compassion aspect and the need that was represented by the disaster,” Edwards added.

Watching news reports about the earthquake left her feeling sympathetic for the Japanese people, student Mavis Staley said.

“I saw one of the Japanese people in their house when the earthquake was happening,” the 9-year-old said. “It was scary.”

Nine pieces of artwork from the 197 paintings completed by students in grades K-5 were selected for a commemorative poster.

The nine brightly colored and distinctly patterned fish paintings are featured on a black background above a title that reads, “The KOI Project,” with the Japanese symbol for the word “koi” next to the writing.

The other side of the poster reads, “Veritas Christian Academy 2011 Children Learning Compassion Through Art.”

“I think it looks really good,” 9-year-old Luke Petree said.

Samaritan’s Purse Donor Ministries representatives Kristin Charnley and Brittney Clark accepted the $3,000 check from Lynn Gilpin, Veritas Lower School principal, who is a native of Japan.

Samaritan’s Purse volunteers have been working in Japan since the earthquake hit the Pacific Coast of Tohoku in March. The organization plans to keep sending volunteers through the end of 2012, Charnley said.

The students’ kind-hearted efforts are touching, she said.

“We want to make sure to encourage them to be generous at a young age because it will follow them the rest of their lives,” Charnley said.

The artwork stands on its own as a testament to the students’ skills, Clark said.

“The artwork is amazing; I’m so proud of them,” she added.

Koi Project posters are being sold for $10 each, with all proceeds going toward earthquake relief efforts. To view the poster, go to and click on the “Koi Project” link. To purchase a poster, visit Veritas Christian Academy at 17 Cane Creek Road in Fletcher or call 828-681-0546.

Reach Kelley at 828-694-7871 or at

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