Big Read Challenges Students To Think Globally
Each year, Catholic High School selects a book, known as the “Big Read,” for all students and faculty to read over the summer. One of the main objectives of the Big Read is to create a conversation between students and faculty, and provide a platform across subject areas for activities and projects that highlight different themes throughout the book. This past summer, the book selected was The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. Set in Malawi, Africa, William Kamkwamba recounts the true story of his youth and his mission to construct a windmill from scraps to produce electricity for his entire village. His story is a lesson in personal perseverance, determination in the face of adversity and triumph.
In Jewell Riecke’s Civil Engineering and Architecture Honors classes, students experienced firsthand some of the challenges William faced when they constructed their own working windmills from basic materials. Charles Jumonville, CHS religion teacher, had his classes select passages from the book depicting one of William’s struggles and work through that challenge with a hands-on project approach. For example, one group created a water filtration system with plastic bottles and a coffee filter. CHS STREAM faculty member Bill DeVillier used the solar tracking system he designed through his company, Energy Solutions, to demonstrate how new and innovative technology can be used to help impoverished nations in an efficient and economical way.
Bringing the books’ struggles even closer to home, on his recent visit, Brother Chris Sweeney, S.C. ’84, director of Mission Amatongas, a Brothers of the Sacred Heart school in Mozambique, Africa, shared with the CHS community the similarities between the struggles of Amatongas and the challenges William faced in his own village. Since arriving at the school in February 2011, Brother Chris has worked tirelessly to provide even the most basic needs for the students including running water, electricity, textbooks and food. His incredible success is attributed to his hard work, faith and the generosity of many people. The CHS community has played a role in that success with student-led fundraisers to support Mission Amatongas.
In addition, members of the CHS community sponsor students to help offset the cost of school tuition, school uniforms, and room and board. In appreciation, students keep in touch with their sponsors with photographs and letters throughout the year. For more information about sponsoring a child or supporting Mission Amatongas, click here.