Wolves for Water

Being the change you wish to see

It’s 8 am on a Friday. Lucy, Ryla, Kevin and Megan have been working for the last four mornings on a video that will be shown during home base the following week. What’s going on? Meghan points to the quote displayed in large pink lettering in her English language arts classroom: Be the change you wish to see in the world. “This really struck me,” said Megan. “If you want something to change, you have to take action.”

She’s referring to her inspiration to become involved in an all-school initiative happening this March. Everyone is pulling together to raise funds to help drill a well in South Sudan. The genesis of the project is the book “A Long Walk to Water” by Newberry Medalist Linda Sue Park.

the video-making team

everyone is invited to the game!

Inspired by a story all students know

Each year, sixth graders read the gripping novel about two Sudanese children, a boy named Salva and a girl named Nya, who face incredible hardship. They are ultimately able to improve their lives and the lives of others through local access to clean water. The real-life Salva, on whom the novel is based, went on to found Water for South Sudan.

“It’s always a powerful read,” said Team Aspire teachers Kathy O'Neil and Nicole Esterow. “This year, the students decided to take it a step further.”

Eighth graders vs faculty basketball game

Their students came up with the idea of Wolves for Water: an 8th grade vs faculty basketball game fundraiser at the high school gym. Many eighth graders volunteered to play. Other students created an informational bulletin board by the main office. Members of Student Council will sell $5 tickets at the door. The game is open to the public. Donations can also be made to John Jay's initiative at Water for South Sudan

“Nya had to walk for hours, twice a day, to get water for her family,” said Ryla. “She couldn’t go to school. The money we raise will make it easier for girls like us to get an education.”


A fun community event

As the students were finishing up their work on the informational video, morning announcements began. Principal Jeff Swiatowicz was talking up the basketball game fundraiser! “I think the students are going to need tissues,” he teased, mentioning that health teacher Tyler Sayre, who coaches varsity basketball at John Jay High School, was the captain of the faculty team. The whole group dissolved into laughter.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said O’Neil. She referred to something that Salva, one of the main characters of “A Long Walk to Water” discovered as searched for his family and a safe place to stay: One step at a time. “We hope this will become an annual tradition. This is our first step.”

8th grader Jack Green and Coach Tyler Sayre