Young earthquake survivors arrive, enroll in school

By Chuck Weber

LAKE WORTH, FL (WFLX)-Out of tragedy, signs of hope. Friday two young survivors of the Haiti earthquake enrolled at Barton Elementary in Lake Worth.

A student receiving line welcomed seven-year old Ian Cuvilly and his five-year old sister Elka. Some students hugged the new arrivals, others gave hand slaps.

The children, both born here in the States, flew from Haiti to Orlando on a military transport plane this week. Their mother, Martine Laroche, who is not a citizen, must return to Haiti.

"The separation is tough," said Laroche. "But I know they're here, they're safe."

Laroche said when the earthquake hit, Ian and Elka were at home with their father, and managed to get outside uninjured. But their home's stability is questionable and the kids' school is half destroyed.

"When I go into the streets," Laroche said, "and see all the buildings I knew, that don't exist anymore, you really wonder how you can start over."

Ian and Elka will stay with Laroche's uncle and aunt. Turns out the aunt, Maryalice Laroche, is a kindergarten teacher at Barton.

And the children have more reasons to feel at home at the school. The principal, many staff members, and nearly a third of the students are Creole-speakers.

Principal Dr. Aurora Francois believes Ian and Elka are the first earthquake survivors to enroll in the Palm Beach County School District. "I'm very proud, honored," said Francois. "Because it renews hope for me, that a lot of our children will be able to escape what's going on in Haiti."