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August 8, 2011

Clarke Student Max Schmidt Makes Art for Tornado Relief


August 8, 2011—Max Schmidt, a student in Clarke’s K-8 program, is the artist behind the large origami flowers that adorn many of the offices and classrooms at Clarke’s Northampton campus. Max got interested in origami after receiving an origami calendar and researching other crafts. “He was determined to learn how to make them and found a tutorial on YouTube. He just kept at it until he had it perfect!” says Joanne Schmidt, Max’s mom.

This June, tornadoes hit the nearby city of Springfield, MA, causing heavy damage and leaving many homeless. Working with classroom teacher Lou Barden, Max decided to raise funds for disaster relief by selling his signature origami art to teachers and staff. “Max showed incredible caring and initiative in taking on this project. I’m so proud of him!” says Barden.

The proceeds from Max’s benefit sale totaled $100, and was donated to the Red Cross Tornado Relief Fund.

Although Max was born with typical hearing, a case of meningitis when he was an infant left him with a profound hearing loss. Max’s family is from Chicago, and although it was a difficult decision to send him so far from home to Clarke’s residential program, Max’s mother knew it was the right decision. “Clarke is an amazing school and he’s come so far in just this past year.”

In addition to philanthropy, Max’s hobbies include Drama Club (he played the parts of Dr. Dillamond and Munchkin in The Wicked Wizard of Oz), creative writing, science of all kinds, and frequent trips to Friendly’s for ice cream with staff mentor Martha deHahn, Clarke’s Director of Program Information. “Max has really gained confidence over the past year,” says deHahn. “He came up with a great idea and he wasn’t afraid to approach the teachers and staff to make it a success.”

“I really look up to him,” says Joanne. “He’s overcome the challenges he’s faced, believes in himself, and really cares about others.”