Hope rising from the ashes: Poplin Elementary community unites in support of one of its own

Photo courtesy of Poplin Elementary School

Photo courtesy of Poplin Elementary School

INDIAN TRAIL – June 10 started out like a typical Tuesday for the Politowicz family, but by afternoon the day was anything but ordinary.

Fifth-grader Jordan Politowicz was pulled from her class celebration at Poplin Elementary School, and the school soon received devastating news – Jordan’s house had caught fire.

“It was kind of surprising that she left in the middle of the party,” fifth-grade teacher Kim Peck said. “At the end of the school day, (we learned) her house had caught fire, and (Jordan) left for that reason.”

School officials didn’t waste any time. Principal Scott Broome called a staff meeting at the end of the school day to brief his faculty on Jordan’s situation and issue a call to action.

“That family is so deserving. They are so kind and caring and do for others all the time, so it was our opportunity to give back to them,” Broome said.

Jordan was set to attend her fifth-grade graduation ceremony the following day, so Peck and fellow fifth-grade teacher Jennie Taylor made arrangements to take Jordan to Target so she could shop for something to wear to the ceremony, as well as a few additional outfits.

“It was just an immediate ‘We need to help, and what can we do?’” Taylor said. “The family is the sweetest, kindest family you’ll ever meet. They are the givers, and we just knew right away that we had to give to them, to help them.”

While Jordan was shopping, school officials sent an email to the parents of Poplin Elementary students explaining the Politowicz family’s situation and asking for donations of any kind. The response was overwhelming, as more than $1,100 in monetary donations was given in less than 24 hours.

“It was $1,100 raised just from an email being sent out to parents and teachers,” Sherri Politowicz, Jordan’s mom, said. “It was just amazing to see the school do that.”

Families and staff also donated clothes and items like board games, and the school found some yearbooks from the past several years to give to Jordan so she could hold onto those memories.

But perhaps the most emotional moment occurred during Jordan’s fifth-grade graduation ceremony. Fifth-graders are “promoted” to middle school during the event and take their final walk through the halls of Poplin, as “Pomp and Circumstance” is played and the students line the hallways to “clap out” their peers. As Jordan’s made her way through the halls, the school erupted in applause.

“They clapped for Jordan much louder,” Peck said. “It was just amazing (to see) the response, to see people loving on her.”

The Politowicz family also was moved by the experience.

“(Jordan said), ‘I just can’t believe all the stuff my friends and teachers are doing for me. They’re just giving me so much.’ She was overwhelmed,” Politowicz said. “It was a wonderful thing for the school to do.”

The family has received support from others in the community. Politowicz said the firefighters throughout Union County have gone above and beyond the call of duty. A local Hobby Lobby also pitched in to help. Jordan’s older sister’s wedding is this Saturday, and a lot of the reception paraphernalia was lost in the fire. The family contacted Hobby Lobby, where many of the items were purchased, and the store agreed to offer a 50 percent discount on any items the family needed.

The family has a long road ahead, as the investigation into what caused the fire continues. The fire started in the attic, Politowicz said, and evidence so far points to electrical and insulation issues. The family also won’t know for another couple of weeks how many of their belongings will be salvageable.

In the meantime, they’re looking ahead to a family vacation in Florida, Jordan starting sixth grade at Porter Ridge Middle School in the fall and hopefully rebuilding their home on its current property by Christmas.

“We’re just grateful we’re all alive and our puppy made it out, too … and that there are still people out there that care and reach out,” Politowicz said.

Call Poplin Elementary at 704-296-0320 for information on how you can help the Politowicz family.

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Josh Whitener

About Josh Whitener

Josh Whitener has been with Union County Weekly since he started freelancing for the newspaper in summer 2010. He joined the paper full time in December 2011 as a staff writer and has since been promoted to Features Editor, a position that allows him to focus on Union County school and education news, human interest stories, church and religion news, special events and more. Josh graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2009 with a degree in communication studies - mass media and a minor in journalism. In his spare time, he enjoys playing and writing music and spending time with his wife, April, and son, Caleb, and their two beagles, Annie and Dori. Have a story idea or question for Josh? Contact him at josh@unioncountyweekly.com.

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