DeSOTO, Texas – As another school year drew to a close, the sophomore class of Canterbury Episcopal School was thinking of more than summer vacation.

The students were also considering how recovery efforts would continue over the summer in the city of West, following the fertilizer plant explosion that devastated the south Texas town earlier this year.

“During class we were discussing the explosion and its impact and the students were really moved to do something to help,” Comparative Religious Ethics teacher Patricia Seifert said.

As a result of that discussion, students brainstormed ways to get their peers and Canterbury families involved in assisting West. Students determined hosting a Parents Night Out event on campus was the ticket to bring in the most participation and funds.

“We knew Canterbury parents would donate to a good cause if we asked, but we also wanted to give them something in return. So the sophomores – and several parents and teachers – agreed to volunteer as chaperones for a Parents Night Out,” sophomore Jacki Reininga, who spearheaded the activity, said.

Ages pre-K through 8th grade were invited to five hours of food, fun and fellowship, during which sophomores oversaw crafts, games and movie time.

The family of CES sophomore Rick Hernandez donated an inflatable obstacle course for the night, and CES parent Dianne Armstrong brought members of her Girl Scout troop to earn their babysitting badge at the event.

Student volunteers also helped at a card-making station where participants created motivational messages to send to the people of West. In the meantime, parents enjoyed a night out and felt good about paying for childcare that was aiding a cause.

“We actually earmarked our funds for the families of the West Volunteer Fire Department, who lost firefighters battling the explosion,” Seifert noted. With Night Out donations from pleased parents and funds collected over a two-week timeframe from CES faculty, the sophomore class collected $850.

“It was such an admirable project that Canterbury sophomores voluntarily took on and they were so welcoming and supportive of our children that our kids didn’t want to leave when the night was over,” CES parent Kristine Serafin, who brought two children to Parents Night Out, said. “There is always such a spirit of family at Canterbury, and this is exactly why. Our students, older and younger, care about each other and they care about others in need.”

The Canterbury Episcopal School – which marked its 20th anniversary last year – is a college preparatory K-12 independent school serving Dallas and Ellis counties from its 36-acre wooded campus in DeSoto. Enrollment for the 2013-14 school year is happening now. To learn more, visit