Roberts Students Collect School Supplies for School in South Sudan

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Gabriel Bol Deng’s motto is “With hope, you can move mountains.” At Roberts Pre-K-8 School, students took this to heart and organized a school supply drive to benefit Bol Deng’s school in South Sudan, the Ariang School.
In 2007, after many years away from his native village, Bol Deng returned to Ariang to find that hundreds of children were taught not in a functioning school, but in makeshift classes under trees. He returned to the United States and spent three years soliciting funds for a new Ariang School—which, thanks to his efforts, opened to students in May 2011. While students in Ariang and the surrounding villages now have a functioning school campus, they are still in need of instructional materials, electricity and more.
Social Worker Leigh Sexton says that Bol Deng, a South Sudan native, was invited to Roberts after some PTO members saw him speak at church. The school arranged to have Bol Deng speak to third to eighth graders about his life and school experiences in South Sudan. Students were quick to want to help the Ariang School’s children, so the Student Council met and decided to create a school supply drive benefitting the school.
Leah Nowak, a fourth grader, explains the students’ motivation. “I saw Gabriel speak at church, and then he did a conference with us here at school,” she said. “His school really needs supplies to educate kids, so it makes me feel awesome that we decided to do this.”
With only two weeks to collect items, several boxes of notebooks, folders, pens and other school supplies were donated by students and staff. Ms. Sexton said even she was impressed at the overwhelming response from students, “It is awesome because the students are very invested. So many of them gained a new appreciation for our education system.”
Fourth grader Logan Chavez is one of those students. “The fact that we’re sending them to South Sudan in Africa is amazing because it’s a third world country and they don’t have the kind of education that we have,” he explained.
Fellow Student Council member Amor Williams, a seventh grader, added, “I feel really good that our school took the time to help others who need a better education. Our teachers brought supplies too and that helped get everyone excited. It was fun that everyone enjoyed it!”
Thanks to students at Roberts, students at the Ariang School will now have an abundance of new school supplies to help bolster their learning. And at Roberts, students have been inspired to continue helping those who are less fortunate.
Eighth grader Louis Gonzalez reflected, “It doesn’t matter how much was donated—every little bit matters. I learned not to take things for granted, because not everyone has what we do. I’d do this again in a heartbeat!”