Assistant Principal's Spirit Carries on Through Harris Christmas Project

The legacy of beloved assistant principal Walter Harris lives on this holiday season through a special project at KIPP Central City Academy, the New Orleans school where he spent six treasured years. Harris, who served as assistant principal, passed away in April 2020 at age 51. 

Now in its third year, the Harris Christmas Project honors his memory through an annual essay contest open to KCCA students. This year's winners were surprised with gifts mirroring items from their Christmas wish lists – from hoverboards and Apple products to bicycles and clothing.

"The Harris Christmas Project is a tradition, celebrating the legacy of Mr. Harris' generosity every day. Mr. Harris was always looking for ways to make someone's day brighter," said KCCA principal Quiana Jones. "This project captures his spirit by creating lifelong memories for our students while celebrating his caring nature."

Harris' wife Cheri shared that Walter always wanted to sponsor a family at Christmas. "So we started doing that. When he passed we tried to turn our pain into a purpose," she said.

The non-profit "Harris Christmas Project" was established in 2020 to continue Harris' legacy. Supported by donations from friends and family, the organization buys whatever items are on the winning students' Christmas lists.

"Our ultimate goal is to make sure the kids are happy. The kids faces are priceless," said Cheri. She attended this year's event at KCCA alongside the couple's children - Chelbe, Walter Harris III and Madison.

Sixth-grader Aaliyah was thrilled to receive her gifts, including a ring light, camera and Apple watch charger. “I loved getting all of my gifts. I am glad they are keeping Mr. Harris’ legacy alive,” she said.

The cheerful holiday program serves as a heartwarming reminder to KCCA students and staff about Harris’ lasting legacy of kindness and service to the school community.“That’s what the Christmas Project is all about,” said Jones.