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Safe water, a key piece in survival’s puzzle 

Fifth-grader Evelyn Gasper Santiago shares what she thinks life would be like if there was no water

Kelloggsville — Fifth-grader Delilah Torres can tell you what life is like without clean water. She has lived it.

Originally from Mexico, Delilah told her classmates in teacher Brittany Zender’s fifth-grade class about how she and her father would walk for several miles to access water.

“We weren’t able to drink it because it wasn’t clean,” she told her classmates. “I would bring my family’s clothes with me to wash them and I would have to clean my little sister with the water.”

Fifth-graders at Central Kelloggsville Elementary recently spent a week learning about access to clean water. Throughout the lesson, students covered the four Cs of education: cooperation as students listen to others, collaboration as they discussed their thoughts about water with one another, critical thinking as they researched the topic, and creativity by designing their own puzzle piece based on what they had learned, Zender said. During science class, students also explored a model of a water treatment facility.

On national Imagine a Day Without Water, which was Oct. 19, all 165 fifth-graders put their puzzle pieces together. The activity culminated with the students visiting the city of Wyoming’s Clean Water Plant.

No Handwashing, Bathing, Teeth-brushing

Students learned that two million people in the U.S. lack clean and safe water, according to the U.S. Water Alliance. Fifth-grader Zander Baker researched other countries and put together a map that showed its availability world-wide.

Students listened to a short presentation created by Zender and shared their own experiences. Fifth-grader Jorge Perez brought photos to show what life was like in his native Cuba. He shared how his family collected rainwater and boiled it before it could be used. 

“If there is no water one day in the world, the hospitals would not have any medicine and maybe the animal world dies,” Jorge said. “The farmers will not be able to grow food, and if there was no water, how would you put out a fire?”

Fire was a top concern for Zander, who noted the trees behind his home.

“So if there is no water and one of those trees randomly caught on fire, there would be nothing we could do,” he said. 

Giovani Hernandez Aguilar noted that people would not be able to wash their hands or take showers, which could affect their health. Classmate Ayden English said lack of drinking water could lead to dehydration, especially for those who play sports.

Read Delilah aloud from her puzzle piece: “We are lucky that we live in Michigan and have clean water that has been filtered … so we are able to use it without getting sick like many others.”

Fifth-grader Jules Mioko shares what he wrote on his puzzle piece about what life would be like without water

Read more from Kelloggsville: 
They boomeranged back to being Rockets
She choose math over snakes and cold, and students win

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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