Students at Mount Airy High School have been devoting themselves to the United Nations 17 Sustainable Goals for 2030 for several months, both at the organization’s headquarters and here in Surry County.
In March, four students from the school’s Interact Club, Gilleyn Bunting, Lindley Williams, Owen Perkins and Olivia Wilson, made a trip to New York to visit the United Nations.
The trip was partially funded by the American Freedom Association and Mount Airy Rotary Club, according to Carol Burke, American Freedom Association treasurer and Rotary member.
Students were chosen for the trip based on speeches they made on the subject of clean water and sanitation, Goal #6 of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.
Two Mount Airy High students, Lindley Williams and Owen Perkins, authored winning speeches. The top two students overall presented their speech before the United Nations. Williams’ third-place overall finish put her just one spot short of being able to speak at the event, according to Melissa Ogle, a history teacher at Mount Airy High and also Interact Club sponsor, who accompanied the students to New York.
“The students learned a lot about water sustainability and what they can do as high school students, about being conscientious about what they purchase and about pesticides,” Ogle said.
As a result of the United Nations experience, Ogle introduced the 17 Sustainable Goals for 2030 to her American History II class. The students, all in their junior year, chose one of the goals and, working collaboratively, took a deep dive into it, learning all they could about it and thinking of ways to apply what they had learned to Surry County.
The UN’s Goal #1 — No Poverty was tackled by Morgan Pogue, Miriam Culler and Maggie Cooke who demonstrated where the heaviest concentrations of poverty are located, and cited statistics, such as half the people in the world live on less than $2.50 a day.
When they took questions from the audience, Catrina Alexander, career development coordinator for the school system, asked each member of the team what they thought was the most important thing to do to eliminate poverty.
“Child care,” said Miriam.
“Expand Medicaid,” said Maggie.
“Raise the minimum wage,” said Morgan.
“It is no coincidence poverty is number one on the list,” said Dr. Philip Brown, executive director of teaching and learning for Mount Airy City Schools.
Tianna Carter discussed Goal #2 — Zero Hunger, said “not every one gets breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some only get one. And some people don’t even get that.”
She discussed the eating of mud pies in countries where food is in very short supply, and the disorder known as pica that can result from eating dirt.
Haley Calloway, Axelle Lince and Brisel Salazar presented Goal #12 — Sustainable Consumption and Production, and said 29% of global energy is used by households. Each member of the team spoke on one of the aspects of consumption, food, energy and water.
Goal #5 — Gender Equality was tackled by Logan Beechner who provided interesting statistics, such as men apply for a job for which they are 60-70% qualified. Women only apply for a job if they are 90-100% qualified.
Logan’s takeaway from what she learned was that she shouldn’t give up after the first few times. “I need to keep trying.”
The last presentation was made by Hunter Eaton, Goal #6 — Clean Water and Sanitation. Hunter did a demonstration with water bottles of the effectiveness of filtration of water and asked the audience to give estimates of their daily water usage, all of whom woefully underestimated their water footprint.
Ogle was very proud of her students.
“Some of them have never spoken in class before,” she said.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.