Sparta - Sparta High School students and staff spearheaded a fund drive to aid families of the Peter F. Alba Elementary School community in Bayou La Batre, Ala., who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Bayou La Batre is a small shrimping and processing community on the coast near Mobile that was hit hard by the hurricane. Over 1,000 of the 2,300 families in the community were displaced. Janet Ferraro, a physical education teacher at Sparta High School, has family in the Mobile, Ala., area, who put her in touch with the principal and first-grade teacher from the Peter F. Alba School district. Ferraro and the Alabama educators discussed the needs of the students and their families. Fund drives at the High School, Alpine School and Sparta Middle School raised $6000. Proceeds were used to purchase Wal-Mart gift cards for the Bayou La Batre school community families. When Ferraro mentioned her idea to a colleague, Tim Vallilee, he offered to fly her to Alabama to deliver the cards personally. The two flew in Vallilee’s plane to a small airport near Mobile. The drive to the school gave them an opportunity to see first hand the destruction caused by the storm. Ferraro and Vallilee presented the gift cards to the school principal and first-grade teacher, who took the Sparta educators on a tour of the area. Ferraro and the Bayou La Batre staff expressed thanks to all who participated in raising money, and to teachers Cathy Goodwin, Jenna Valleau and Donna Smith and their students for helping with the fund drive. An effort is under way for the two districts to keep in touch. First-grade teachers from Sparta and Bayou La Batre will work to develop a pen pal exchange with their classes.