For close to a year, students at Farmington Middle School had a goal to help a community close to 8,000 miles away in world far removed from their own where something as simple as getting a glass of water is problematic.
“Last year, a group of our students had read the book, ‘A Long Walk to Water’ in their Language Arts class,” said Jared Howe, Character Education mentor at the middle school. “They were so inspired by these young girls who had to walk eight miles just for potable water, they wanted to do something to help.”
With the advice of their Character Leadership instructor Scott Doty, the students began a grassroots campaign to raise the $1,000 needed to help the Sudanese village secure a drilling rig.
“Last year, they sponsored a dance and raised about $350,” Howe said. “They had a little bump (in the amount raised) at the end of the year during MAP testing when they sold little bags of candy, so by the end of the year they were at $560.”
According to Howe, when the students returned to school after summer break, they were still determined to help this community. The school’s Character Council took up the cause to raise the additional money needed.
“During homecoming week, we had different theme days and everyone in school could participate,” Howe said. “We asked the kids during that week if they were participating in something like Hat Day if they could make a donation. By Thursday we had hit our goal, and actually by Friday we had raised a total of $600, which put us around $1,100 for a grand total.”
Howe added other than an after-school dance on the last day of spirit week, the students did not have any incentives to raise the money.
“I think this is very exciting,” Howe said. “These students read a book and now they want to do something about the problem they read about. I really think this was rather empowering.”
Now that the funds have been raised, the school will be working with Water for South Sudan, a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring fresh, clean water to the people of rural southern Sudan.
Howe explained the money raised goes towards the purchase of a rig called an iron giraffe needed for the drilling. Water for South Sudan handles everything else needed to build the well.
“I am very impressed by the empathy they are showing,” said Assistant Principal Todd McKinney “This is the type of thing Character Education helps develop, and it’s very exciting to see our students picking it up on their own. To see empathy in kids this age is really promising.”
“This is the type of thing Character Education helps develop, and it’s very exciting to see our students picking it up on their own. To see empathy in kids this age is really promising.”
Farmington Middle School Assistant Principal Todd McKinney
Craig Vaughn is a reporter for the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3629 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.