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Walden III Students Takes A Unique Approach to a Decades-Old Tradition


One year ago, Walden III Middle School student Fischer Jackson was at North Beach. He walked the beach with his classmates chatting and picking up garbage. He didn’t think that much of it. It was a nice thing to do, a chance to get outside on a school day, a small gesture that made a difference in his community.  It was after all, Make A Difference Day.

“We were just reflecting about how much garbage there was on the beach that day,” Walden III teacher Jeff Ruggaber said. “It’s crazy to think that was 365 days ago.”

Make A Difference Day is a national effort and a Walden III tradition for decades. It was established to help encourage people to take one day a year to try to make a difference in their communities.

Today, Walden III students are doing their part once again. But, Jackson and his friends aren’t at the beach. They’re at home, with their computers, cameras and microphones turned on, reminiscing about how one morning picking up garbage at the beach could feel like a lifetime ago.

In March, COVID-19 forced schools to close and students to learn from home. Heading into the 2020-2021 school year, Racine Unified students continue learning remotely. The global pandemic has changed our world in so many ways. It hasn’t, however, changed Walden III students’ desires to make a difference.

“Just because you can’t be in person doesn’t mean you can’t make the world a better place,” 7th grader Amina Jallow said. “It’s important that we all still do our part, actually, even more important than ever before.”

That’s why students in Mr. Ruggaber’s class are making homemade holiday cards for local seniors.

“We want to make people happy even if these aren’t the happiest of times,” student Mae Perkins said.

The cards, created entirely by the students, incorporate messages of hope, peace and holiday wishes.

“Making someone a card is one of the more heartfelt things you can do,” Jallow said while creating a card of her own.

Other students at Walden III are also taking a different approach to the decades-old tradition.

Students in Ms. Casandra Schatzman’s high school class partnered with a middle school class to mentor and work on activities together while another group of students made a video thanking first responders for the sacrifices they’ve made to keep us safe.

“It’s all about giving back to the people that have given so much to our own families,” Ruggaber said.

And sometimes it’s as simple as giving up a little bit of time to make someone else feel good. Take it from these students, that is something we can all do.