Students at South Carroll High School are reading and responding to the book A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park in Advisory. The students and staff members are now fundraising for South Carroll’s Iron Giraffe Challenge. “Iron Giraffe” is the slang term for the well drilling equipment used in Sudan, as its long neck looks like a giraffe. The goal is to raise at least $1,000.
A Long Walk to Water is based on the true story of Salva Dut, a “Lost Boy” of Sudan. At 11 years old, Salva was orphaned, fleeing a civil war, and left to walk with thousands of others across Sudan into refugee camps in neighboring Ethiopia and then Kenya. At 22 years of age, Salva was permitted to enter the United States, where he founded a non-profit called Water for South Sudan, which focuses on well building and eliminating water-borne diseases in his homeland. Each chapter begins with the story of Nya, a young girl whose life revolves around obtaining water for her family. Her life would be dramatically changed if Water for South Sudan was able to dig a well in her remote village.
Lessons created by teachers from every content area are integrated into the Advisory lessons. A family and consumer science teacher created a lesson on hunger and malnutrition, tying issues in the book to food banks and food insecurity in Maryland. A biology teacher created a lesson on the guinea worm with videos showing how it affects humans and ways that scientists are trying to eradicate it. An English teacher created a lesson on the literary technique of juxtaposition as the book follows two different stories about the same topic. A graphic design class designed buttons that students who donate to the Iron Giraffe Challenge will receive as a token of appreciation. Other lessons focus on current events as they relate to topics in the book, including the refugee crisis and drought.
The book also ties in to the school’s Green School application. Nya’s story focuses on the hardships many go through to obtain potable water every day. The school is trying to reduce the amount of water it uses and to educate staff and students about water scarcity. An Advisory lesson entitled “Rethink What You Drink” will focus on the bottled water industry. Students are collecting plastic water bottles discarded in the cafeteria and classrooms and will determine how many bottles of water the South Carroll population goes through each week. Math classes will use this information to determine how much bottled water is consumed each year and the area that these bottles might take up in a landfill if they were not recycled. They will then upcycle some of the bottles into wearable and fine art.