Silence pierces the empty Dr. Bryan C. Jack Elementary School cafeteria donned with bright, colorful artwork and inspiring words. A few Beatles posters and paper forty-fives hanging from the ceiling are left over from a recent spring concert.
The quiet is broken as little children one after the other file in, hands neatly folded behind their backs, following their teacher to their allotted seats. Most students and teachers are wearing solid white T-shirts that read “Water” with small print underneath.
They fidget in their seats and giggle like first-graders do when they are excited.
Anna Lee — affectionately called “Mrs. Lee” by her class — steps up on the stage, bearing an ear-to-ear grin. After a few words, she prompts the room with a question.
“Who in here is a leader?”
The students at Jack Elementary School desire to be leaders.
The school is built on training students in the way of Dr. Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” which many Fortune 500 companies stand by regularly. The school teaches its students — or Patriots, as they like to call themselves — how to synergize when most students their age can’t even spell it.
“It’s just a part of our lives now,” Mrs. Lee said.
So it was only natural when Mrs. Lee asked her students at the beginning of the school year to help her with an important project, the kids jumped on it.
The entire first-grade class decided to help Charity: Water, a nonprofit organization that provides clean drinking water to people in developing countries. To help the cause, the students would need to raise at least $5,000 to support the drilling of a fresh water well in an African village.
While the majority of enthusiasm and hard work came from the students, parents wanted in on the action as well. Georgia Azzi, whose son is in Mrs. Lee’s class, was elated to help the effort and saw this project as an important teaching tool for the kids.
“As an adult, I do know that clean, sanitary water is not easy to get in some places,” she said. “It made me happy for my son to be involved in charity like this.”
In celebration of their achievement and dedication to the project, an assembly took place in their honor on Friday in the Jack Elementary cafeteria with a watermelon feast outside afterward. A giant check to Charity: Water was shown at the assembly as the kids clapped and yelled with joy.
Mrs. Lee said every cent the children raised will go directly to the building of the well — one of the reasons why she fell in love with the organization.
The idea to support a well sprang from Mrs. Lee, who wanted to take on the project after hearing the organization’s founder, Scott Harrison, speak at a conference. She said he realized that a lot of the devastation and disease some countries face all tie back to an unclean water supply. From then on, it became a personal issue to her and her students.
“It was inspiring to me to see us think beyond our world,” Mrs. Lee said. “We can always do something about it (the situation).”
To learn more information about Charity: Water, go to the organization’s website at www. charitywater.org.