Two spring breaks… sort of

Published 9:45 am Friday, April 25, 2008

Ty Underwood is just days away from the end of his second spring break this year as a high school student.

Underwood, a student at Polk County High School, is in the middle of the Polk spring break this week.

But he took another spring break at the end of March.

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With the permission of teachers and the school&squo;s principal, Underwood worked ahead in his classes so that he could go on a mission trip to New Orleans, Louisana.

Generally, Henderson County and Polk County schools have the same spring break, but this was the first year they didn&squo;t, he said, so he had to work harder to go on the trip.

Underwood&squo;s first spring break wasn&squo;t the ordinary relaxed week at home or at the beach that most might think of.

Instead, he spent his time installing drywall and applying a coat of primer to an elderly woman&squo;s house in New Orleans&squo; ninth ward.

Underwood and some Henderson County students took the trip with the Unitarian Universalists Church in Hendersonville and worked with the Episcopal Outreach group.

But it wasn&squo;t all work and no play for the Polk junior. He visited the French Quarter, listened to live jazz and shopped in the French Market.

Most of all, Underwood got a glimpse of the city that captured the nation&squo;s eye nearly three years ago when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast so severely.

&dquo;A lot of it had been rebuilt considerably,&dquo; Underwood said.

And most of the businesses were open and French Quarter was filled with tourists, he said.

&dquo;Most of the residential areas are still suffering,&dquo; he said. &dquo;A lot of the places still looked like the storm just hit yesterday.&dquo;

Underwood&squo;s parents, Katha and Gary Underwood, are thrilled that their son took the opportunity to help with the Katrina recovery effort.

&dquo;I&squo;m sure more of us would have liked to help these unfortunate families,&dquo; his mom said. &dquo;It can be very difficult to leave work or school to extend a helping hand, but Ty figured out a way to do just that.&dquo;

And now that his real spring break is wrapping up, would he have done it any differently?

&dquo;Not at all,&dquo; he said. &dquo;I think it was an excellent experience. If it were available to do on my spring break, I would go back.&dquo;