Don’t drink the water
Making a difference…part of a series
When the water in the fountains and spigots at Rockville High School (Md.) ran rusty, Rampage contributing editor Xavier Rivera knew something had to be done. The three-part investigative report Rivera wrote caught the attention of a state senator and brought the issue to the forefront motivating administration to seek a remedy to reduce the levels of lead in the water to acceptable EPA levels.
Rampage adviser, Jessica Nassau explained that the “story began during a Rampage staff brainstorming session, when students mentioned that the water coming from the fountains tasted “funny.” Editor Xavier Rivera decided that it was a story worth exploring, kicking off a three-story investigative series. He sent water samples to a lab and the results showed lead levels that surpassed the EPA limits.
He interviewed professionals and district officials to get the full story, and the online edition came to the attention of Senator Karen Montgomery, who wrote a letter to the school board. It was clear that this was a safety issue that could not be ignored.
Due to the story, the school began the EPA recommended water-flushing protocol, which brought the lead presence down to what is considered a safe level. The articles really got the attention of students and staff at our school, and we definitely heard from many of them that they wouldn’t drink the water until the problem was fixed.
That the district ultimately had to take action based on a student publication was tremendously empowering for the whole staff of the Rampage, who came to see that journalists really do make a difference. Though the article was primarily Xavier’s, I would like to mention that he had tremendously supportive editors-in-chief who helped him. This was a story that was bigger than one person, and it was wonderful to see the staff come together to make it the best it could be.”
Read the stories at the links provided.
H20 or H2No?
Administration Responds to Water Quality
Flushing Protocol Meklit Bekele– The Rampage Fixes Water Quality