Heroism for Haiti
It is possible that no member of April Hill's third grade class at Two Rivers Community School will ever meet one of the people devastated by the earthquake in Haiti.
This has not deterred them from persevering in a long-term class project to raise money to benefit this country, after many relief efforts have faded with much work left to be done.
"They don't have the resources to build their world back," Claire Bowling, a member of Hill's class, said. "We have those resources, so we have to help them rebuild their world."
The class project began in fall of 2009, when Hill started a unit on heroes for her class at Two Rivers, which is a public charter school that participates in Expeditionary Learning (EL).
Learning Expeditions, according to http://www.elschools.org, are "long-term, 'real world' investigations, by teachers and students, of compelling subjects, which culminate in public presentations."
The heroes unit was what inspired the students to begin fundraising.
"We read 'Three Cups of Tea,'" Hill said. "I developed a hero expedition called 'Brave, Noble and Courageous Heroes.' One part of that expedition is a service component."
The students began with a project that raised $900 to help build a girls' school in Pakistan, assisting with the ongoing work described in "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson.
Then, when a class guest came in and talked to the students soon after the devastation in Haiti, the students realized that their heroes unit was not over.
Lisa Redman, parent of third grade student Landrum Redman, came in and talked to the children about the various organizations to which the students could donate their proceeds.
"It's amazing; I'm just so proud of my son and all the kids," Redman said. "It's their project; the third grade class is really passionate about service work."
The children chose Wine to Water, a local non-profit agency working in Haiti with water scarcity and contamination.
The students employed their creativity toward ideas for how to raise money.
Emma Aldridge, a member of the class, said, "When we started learning about Haiti, that's when Landrum's mom came in and talked to us, and we started filling this big jar, and we've got over 300 right now"
They have sold baked goods and tissue paper flowers at various events in the area, from football games to the Diversity Celebration at Appalachian State University.
The students plan on working through the summer, both with projects that they will do by themselves and jointly as members of the class.
Amelia Darnell, a member of the class, said, "In the summer, I'm going to sell friendship bracelets; I love making and selling bracelets. I hope I raise a lot of money!"
One of the plans for the summer, according to Hill, is to use produce from the Two Rivers school garden to raise money for Haiti, toward their goal of $1,000.
The students and parents of Two Rivers will be at a table in front of Green Mother Goods in Boone on Saturdays throughout the summer at 12 p.m., starting June 19.
Community members can come and donate or buy from the variety of fundraising products.
When asked why the third-graders decided to carry on into the summer, Mercer Fischer, a member of Hill's class, said, "It's really fun, and it's always needed."
"We should probably do it (fundraising) all the time," Anneka Suddreth, a member of the class, said. "Like my Dad says, 'Pretend like every day is Earth Day,' so I try to help people as much as I can each day."
The students don't intend to let their community efforts end when they reach fourth grade next year.
A unit of documentaries about large-scale factory farming inspired the students to aim their next project at fundraising for healthy farming practices.
Griffin Arquette, a member of the class, said, "We watched a movie; it taught me all about how if you eat factory farming it can poison you."
This class sees service as a continual process, not merely an isolated project.
Hill said, "One of the things they've learned is that it doesn't matter if you are 8, 9 years old; you can still make a difference."