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'We need to change'
Elementary school leading the way in water conservation

NORCROSS - At Beaver Ridge Elementary School, students and staff know every drop counts.

Science teacher Nancy Koehler has spearheaded the school's campaign to conserve water. After a concerned student approached her with questions about the state's historic drought, Koehler said she developed ways for every student at the school to learn about water consumption and conservation.

Whether in the school's classrooms or hallways, it's easy to see the school's focus on water conservation. In music class, students sing about "drop, drop, drinking drops," while a poster outside Koehler's classroom gives ideas on how to reduce water consumption.

"They will remember this forever," Koehler said. "We're trying to teach that this isn't a one-day thing. We need to change the way we live."

After learning about the drought, fifth-grader Jennifer Uzeda distributed hand-drawn fliers to her neighbors in the Bridgewater Apartments, hoping more people would take steps to reduce their water consumption.

One of her tips?

"When you take a shower, don't wait for the water to get hot before you get in," she said. "You can save 20 gallons of water."

Uzeda said she wanted to take action because the drought frightens her.

"It's scary because maybe the whole Earth will get into a drought," she said.

Fellow fifth-grader Anatolie Andrusceak is also actively working to encourage people to be mindful of the amount of water they use.

"When I heard about the drought, I felt like I could just stop it by telling people about it," he said.

"I really want the drought stopped because I want people to be healthy and safe," he added. "I don't care about the grass and if it gets yellow. I care about the water and everything else."

Koehler's also making sure the school practices what it's teaching. She's developed a water recycling system that allows the school to keep plants alive with water collected from ice that would be thrown away from the cafeteria and the last dregs from water bottles.

"This was about the kids," Koehler said. "I'm amazed at how they've taken charge of their world.

"It shows you what can happen when a community works together," she added. "Working together, we're able to accomplish so much more."