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Third graders’ reading results in water well

Third graders’ reading results in water well
Third graders’ reading results in water well
Third-grade student Hunter Jarrett walks with a jug of water on his head as part of Morgan Elementary School's Walk for Water event Thursday. Submitted Photo

Third-grade students at Morgan Elementary School raised enough money to fund the building of a well in a third-world country this school year by reading an average of 100 books each.
Kat Whinery, who teaches one of the school’s three third-grade classes, said for the past couple of years she has read ‘A Long Walk to Water’ by Linda Sue Park in class. In the book, which is based on a true story, an 11-year-old South Sudanese girl named Nya must walk twice a day, for about eight hours, to an alligator-filled pond to fetch water for her family.
‘It was hard for (students) to relate to someone who does not have the convenience of clean water,’ Whinery said. ‘With the permission of a teacher, they can frequently visit a water fountain 10 feet from their classroom door.’
She said when students learned 800 children die each day from preventable diseases caused by unsafe drinking water, they asked her how they could help. That’s when she had the idea to talk to the other third-grade teachers, Jennifer Kintner and Kathy Wallace, about presenting a reading challenge for a fundraiser. Kelly Stewart, a third-grade aide, also assisted with the project.
First, Whinery needed sponsors.
Samtec, in New Albany, which has worked with water-focused charities in the past, donated $2,500 for the project. Individual donors then added to that to reach a total of $4,800, the amount required to build a well.
Whinery and her colleagues challenged each student to read 80 books and pass a comprehension test over each to earn the money.
‘Each child has their own colorful paper bucket that is used as a progress chart to record how many books they have read,’ she said. ‘For each five books read and a computerized test taken, they receive a paper drop of water.’
She said students ended up smashing the 80-books-each goal, and many went on to read at least 125 books.
Water for Life, a program by the charity Life Today, will facilitate the construction of the well. Whinery said the money will ensure the well is drilled to the correct depth, lined with steel casings and ready to go with a properly installed water pump.
Last Thursday, the students participated in their own ‘Walk for Water’ at the school playground, where they carried water jugs on their heads while walking for a quarter mile.
‘The kids were amazed how heavy the water felt on their heads and how tired their arms got,’ Whinery said. ‘There weren’t, however, any wild animals to dodge like in the book.’
Whinery said the class might never know exactly where the well will be built, but the students were excited to help people across the world.

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