Among the most rewarding moments as a teacher are those when students discover connections between their own learning and the world around them. This semester, Washington Prep’s 6th grade ELA class read the novel A Long Walk to Water, a fictionalized account of the real-life experiences of Salva Dut, a South Sudanese refugee. Salva became a Lost Boy of Sudan when he was separated from his family in Sudan’s Civil War in the 1980s. After spending a decade in refugee camps, Salva was relocated to the United States, where he developed the idea for Water for South Sudan, a non-profit organization committed to providing clean drinking water for remote villages in South Sudan. Inspired by reading Salva’s story, Washington Prep 6th graders decided to lead efforts for the school to fundraise $1,000 for Salva’s mission. After much brainstorming, students made a plan to raise funds by making and selling soap! Through this experience, students have learned valuable leadership, service, and work skills.
Each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon during block 9, WA Prep students give their time and energy to community service. 8th and 10th, and 11th graders head into the Bothell community to volunteer at a local food bank and thrift store; 6th, 7th, and 9th grade students have been on-campus, alternating between online citizen science projects and trying their hands at soap making.
In the course of their service project for Water for South Sudan, on-campus students have also been honing marketing and entrepreneurial skills: 10th grade students are currently coordinating an on-site event for November 23rd, to sell baked goods and soaps — and all proceeds will go to Water for South Sudan. On the marketing end, 6th grade students coordinated their community service project with a unit in English class, as they wrote persuasive speeches and explored how to effectively use rhetoric, visual persuasion, and public speaking skills to garner fundraising support.
It’s been exciting to see students not only gaining work and leadership skills but being genuinely excited about doing purposeful (and creative!) work to support others. Our 6th graders jump at the chance to retell Salva’s story, or to explain how many gallons of water are pumped into a village from a well, installed by Water for South Sudan. Our 9th grade students light up when they are in the kitchen, stirring and pouring oils, or in Ms. Eunice’s room, prepping and packaging bars. If you are interested in supporting our soap makers in reaching their $1,000 goal, please reach out to your student or to Kristi Bubna (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information. Students will be selling soaps through December (they make great holiday gifts)! Bars are $5 each, contain all-natural ingredients and essential oils, and are available in lavender and mint. And best of all, each bar is a tangible reminder of Washington Prep students becoming enthusiastic, creative leaders!