PMS 7th grade students walk for water to understand South Sudan


On Franklin Field, 250 seventh graders walked Friday to raise awareness for a lack of clean drinking water in South Sudan. About four years ago, as part of the new International Baccalaureate curriculum, English teachers Wendy Devito and Rachel Pixley started reading to their English classes the novel A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. A true story, it follows Salva Dut through his life in and out of refugee camps. Through the book, students realize how lucky they are to have clean, fresh water right in their homes.

Each student spent their English class period on Friday walking around Franklin Field carrying one-gallon jugs of water. This experience is meant for the students to simulate what Nya, a young girl who is also profiled in the book, goes through every day.

“It’s a fun and true experience,” said Devito. “This a direct connection to the book.”

At the end of the unit, students help raise money for Water for South Sudan, a non-profit started by Salva when he immigrated to the United States. For the last three years, seventh grade students have been raising money to help build a well in South Sudan. Out of the goal of $15,000, the grade has collected $10,750 over the period. When completed, the Pelham Middle School will get a plaque with the school’s name on it, as well as a  “shout out” on Water for South Sudan’s Instagram.

This activity has morphed every year. The first year, author Linda Sue Park came to visit the students.

“The kids get to experience the weight of the water, something that they normally wouldn’t know,” Devito said.

The seventh graders are looking forward to seeing the payoff of this multi-year campaign.

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