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Book Inspires Students to Make a Difference in Sudan

10 students posing by water droplets were affixed to the cafeteria wall.One dollar at a time, funds were raised and water droplets were affixed to the cafeteria wall. By the time the project was complete, students in Dawn Stanczuk’s sixth-grade ELA class had $300 in donations.

They were a little shocked — but pleasantly so.

“What made this so good was that it was so successful,” said Angelo Mastrantoni, one of the students involved. “I was surprised how much people would donate and how much they cared.”

The project, which students completed last month, was inspired by the book “A Long Walk to Water,” a novel based on the true story of Salva Dut that chronicles the difficult water conditions in South Sudan, Africa. Dut later became the founder of the non-profit organization Water for South Sudan, which helps provide South Sudanese citizens with access to clean, safe water.

“It inspired us to want to help the world,” Julia Markolovic said. “As people, we can always do something to help.”

About a dozen students signed up to work on the fundraising project during their WIN period. They created posters to spread the word.

Students and teachers who donated $1 or more had their names written on water droplets that were taped to the cafeteria wall. Raffle tickets were sold and three buckets of blue-colored candy served as the prizes.

The project coincided with a social studies lesson on conserving water. Students had to carry a cup of water from one table to another without spilling, thus simulating the difficulty the Sudanese face when finding and transporting water over a long distance.

“A lot of water was spilled,” Caitlin Boyle said. “It showed us how much water they can lose on their journey.”

Students said the project taught them to think more consistently about conservation.

“Reading the book, I felt bad for the people in South Sudan,” Valentina DeSantis said. “We use a lot of water and we are wasting it. We should all try to use less water.”

The students also said they hope the fundraiser can continue in the future. They were floored by the response, especially considering how quickly the idea came together and the narrow window they had to spread the word about it.

“It was fun to see how much it grew this year,” Olivia Girolamo said. “So many people wanted to help.”

Added Max Grodio: “Hopefully next year it will be even more successful.”

June 5, 2023