Students, staff respond to Flint water crisis

By: Maria Allard | Advertiser Times | Published February 4, 2016

HARPER WOODS — The staff and students of the Harper Woods School District have found a way to help the residents of Flint in light of the city’s water disaster.

Superintendent Todd Biederwolf said that at the request of the district’s Board of Education, the school community is holding a bottled water drive until Feb. 12. 

Donations are being dropped in the commons of the secondary campus to benefit the city of Flint and Flint Community Schools. The district’s food service provider, Chartwells, kicked off the water collection Jan. 26 by contributing 100 cases of water.

There also was an idea to hold a fundraiser at the elementary school level, with the proceeds being used to purchase additional water supplies. That way, the younger students wouldn’t have to carry water, which can be heavy. 

“We don’t know yet how much water we will have. We’ve set an informal goal of 2,000 cases of water,” Biederwolf said. “We might take it up on a school bus, or we might need a bigger truck. Our intent is to deliver the water school to school.” 

Biederwolf shares a common bond with Flint Community Schools Superintendent Bilal Tawwab.

“He is one of my former students back to my teaching career,” Biederwolf said. 

The Harper Woods students are taking the water situation in Flint seriously. 

“Our kids have been paying attention to the media coverage,”  Biederwolf said. 

“I heard about it on the news,” Harper Woods High School senior Talen Haywood said. “It’s a terrible thing. (Residents) can get so many sicknesses and diseases from the water.”

Senior and National Honor Society member Justin Wentland also had some thoughts on the matter.

“I think it’s terrible they went so long without even knowing it,” he said, adding that those who had knowledge of the broken water system “could have done something about it.” 

“Someone should be at fault,” NHS junior Deshawn Wafer said. 

When NHS junior Emily Wood heard about the water nightmare, she “wanted to help.”

“The water drive is going to support them with good water to drink,” Wood said.

Senior Diajanell Reed-Graham was touched by the photo of the young boy on the cover of a recent Time magazine issue with rashes on his face from Flint’s poisoned water. 

“The (bottled) water is going to help them,” said Reed-Graham, also a member of the National Honor Society. “You wash, you eat, you drink with this water. It’s something they need to cook with and bake with.”

“I feel bad for the kids,” Wafer said. “They have no chance to drink the water.”

The students were glad to be able to help the residents of Flint with their water drive.

“It’s basically our community coming together for another community,” Wafer said.