Students carry water from the lake to purify. All photos by Kelley Cuneo.
Water is a resource we take for granted every single day, from tasks as simple as brushing your teeth, cooking a meal, and even just filling up your pet’s water bowl. According to the United Nations, 2.1 billion people lack clean and safe water; however, most days this issue doesn’t cross our minds. On March 20th, the Upper School of Athens Academy celebrated Global Issues Day, focusing on water. The day highlighted water issues with a variety of educational activities, such as building a rain garden and constructing model aqueducts. Throughout the day, students spread out around the campus working in lakes, streams, and gardens.
Grant Brown, Mrs. NeSmith, Franklin Burns, Wyatt Smith, and Cole Reynolds construct a rain garden.
Global Issues Day was held to educate students and teachers about our water consumption and how to be more environmentally conscious. Ingrid Nilsson, a freshman who participated in river ecology and water testing, commented, “I don’t think many people generally think about their water consumption and where it comes from.” Another Athens Academy student, Danielle Norris, a sophomore, stated while testing iron levels in water, “I think I will definitely try and change my water habits and bring that upon my family and friends.” This is an important attitude to take away from Global Issues Day.
Anna Barkley, Harper Purcell, Chloe Sears, and Liza Boswell taste-test water.
Although Athens Academy is only one school, it has a greater impact than people expect. Dr. Marshall Shepherd, professor at the University of Georgia’s Department of Geography and former president of the American Meteorological Society, came to speak to the students of Athens Academy. He said something that opened many students’ minds: “Just the existence of Athens Academy changes the whole water cycle.” Students and faculty faced that issue with a hands-on approach and began studying aquatic critters from their very own creek, building rain barrels, and creating water art. Ella Peters, a sophomore who designed water art, said that she was “excited to change the world,” and certainly the school community was changed by Global Issues Day.
Kate Williams searches for contaminants in the pond by the Science & Art building.
Athens Academy has made its community more aware of the global water shortage. Not only were their mindsets altered, the campus itself was changed by the hard work of the community by creating gardens and other structures and increasing water conservation on campus. This hands-on approach taught students practical skills and made water scarcity a more tangible issue. Changing the world starts with changing yourself, and Athens Academy was the change it wanted to see.