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Class assignment inspires Chartiers Valley students to hold 'Lost Boys' fundraiser

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Submitted photo
Chartiers Valley students (from left) Rachel Schoenefeldt, Rebecca Barton, Jenna Albitz, Alyson Finnerty and Erik Ganley participated in the walk-a-thon.
Submitted photo
Panther Bior lectures a Chartiers Valley class during his visit in January.

Who says kids don't pay attention in school anymore?

Students in Dave Peters' freshman English class at Chartiers Valley High School were so moved by an assignment that they held a fundraiser April 27 to raise money for the topic of their assignment — Sudanese Lost Boys.

“Lost Boys” was the name given to more than 20,000 young boys displaced or orphaned in the African country of Sudan during the Second Sudanese Civil War, which began in 1983.

Peters said his ninth-grade English classes read a non-fiction piece on the Lost Boys, after which he had showed them the National Geographic documentary “God Grew Tired of Us.” The documentary featured the story of Panther Bior, who, after being displaced, ended up in Pittsburgh.

“Noticing in the film's credits that Panther ended up graduating from Pitt, I thought it would be worth a shot just to see if he was still around,” Peters said.

Peters said after a few Google searches, he was able to get in contact with Bior, and he invited him to come speak to his classes. Bior's audience grew from Peters' English classes to the entire freshman class. He visited the school in January.

“All of us were moved by his story, and the students treated him like a celebrity,” Peters said. “Girls were literally squealing when they first spotted him in the hallways that morning. It was cute.”

Despite the buzz, Peters said, Bior's story is heart-wrenching.

Peters encouraged his students to channel their interest into action, and they began planning a walk-a-thon to help raise money for a school Bior is planning to build in his hometown.

“He has been trying to raise the funds for years,” Peters said. “This was a great opportunity for us to help.”

The students put their heads together and came up with the idea of putting on the walk-a-thon.

Peters said that while turnout was not as high as he and his students had hoped, they're continuing to collect money for their fundraising efforts.

“We did not get the numbers that were expected,” he said, “and it's hard not to be a little disappointed. However, donations are still trickling in and it was surely worthwhile.”

Peters and the students are continuing to collect money for the next week, and it will be given to Bior through the Pittsburgh nonprofit Heaven's Family, through which Bior is fundraising for the school.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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