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Corona del Mar High students raise $60,000 to purchase water wells for countries in need

Corona del Mar High School’s Academy of Global Studies raised $12,000 to buy and install a water well in the village of Media Luna in El Salvador.
(Courtesy of Thirst Project)

After a decade of fleshing out a new curriculum focused on international studies, Corona del Mar High School history teacher Laura Mayberry is seeing her passion project come to fruition.

Nearly 200 of her students enrolled in the Academy of Global Studies at CdM raised $60,000 over four years to do their part in helping end the world water crisis.

Their efforts, in collaboration with the nonprofit Thirst Project, funded four water wells for villages in need in El Salvador, Swaziland and other countries.

Mayberry said students are more than halfway done raising $12,000 for a fifth well.


Mayberry, director of the academy, hoped they would be able to fund one well for a school when the effort launched in 2014, but her students exceeded her expectations.

“It’s testament of how bright they are and how motivated they are,” Mayberry said. “It’s exciting because for a long time it was only a thought. They’ve been able to take it far beyond that. I’ve given them the groundwork, and they’ve taken it in so many dynamic ways.”

Villagers from Media Luna in El Salvador stand in front of their water well that was purchased by students from Corona del Mar High School's Academy of Global Studies.
(Courtesy of Thirst Project )

At the end of this academic year, 32 seniors will make up the academy’s first graduating class.


The Newport Beach campus is listed as the No. 1 fundraising group nationwide for the project, according to the nonprofit’s website.

The four-year program offers Advanced Placement classes, a yearlong speaker series and partnerships with nonprofits and schools abroad. Students also have the opportunity to travel with their class to experience firsthand what they’ve learned in the classroom.

Senior Edward Jacobs, 17, enrolled in the academy the first year it was offered. He credits it as his best experience in high school.

Seeing photos of villagers enjoying water from wells they funded was “transformative,” he said.

“The fact that a bunch of 14- and 15-year-olds went around our hometown and raised enough money to give 2,000 people sanitary drinking water isn’t something many teenagers can say about themselves,” Edward said. “It’s a fulfilling experience and it connected us with communities and issues that others can’t sympathize with until they’ve learned about this.”

Senior Delarai Sadeghitari, 17, said she appreciated Mayberry’s hard work, which allows students to learn about the global community.

The “academically rigorous” program aims to create competitive, global citizens with practical skill sets for future jobs,” Mayberry said. “It’ll take community answers and innovative thinkers who are creative to solve problems. We have to prepare our kids for that. That’s what the academy does.”


Twitter: @vegapriscella