Ivan was in fifth grade at Lakewood Elementary when he decided that his school really should have a drinking fountain next to the library so that kids could read and get a drink of water without having to walk across campus to the existing water stations. So, using the lessons he learned at school about finding and using his voice, he created a petition explaining his proposal. He worked with teachers to bring the petition to their classes in the cafeteria during lunch. Every day for nearly a month, he gathered signatures classroom by classroom. After getting 402 of the Lakewood’s 440 transitional kindergarten through fifth graders to sign his petition, and with the help of the school, Ivan was able to pitch his proposal to Sunnyvale School District Superintendent Dr. Benjamin Picard and District Chief Operations Officer Rob Smiley.
“I was so overwhelmed, I was just thinking here I am, a 10-year-old, meeting with the head of the district,” Ivan said. “When that day finally came I was shaking so much, but I just gathered myself and kept talking.”
Ivan said he timed it and it takes about 5-7 minutes to get to each water fountain from the library.
“That’s 5-7 minutes of reading time wasted and to help our brains grow we need more time, so if there was a water fountain right there we would have more time to read because it would be just a couple feet away,” Ivan said he told the Superintendent. “After the meeting, I was just wondering how did I do, did I do well, and all other stuff came to mind.”
But little did he know he had won their approval.
The now sixth grader at Columbia Middle, was happy to see his dreams become reality when his drinking fountain was unveiled in the Fall of 2019.
“To see something that I worked so hard for that was just an idea and for it to turn into reality it’s just so amazing, when you actually accomplish something in your life that’s really big. It’s just that feeling that you get when you’re so happy that you actually did it. I was so filled with joy.”
Ivan said to any student who might have an idea to share it because you never know where it will lead.
“I used to be one of those kids that thought I can’t make a change in anything I’m just a little kid I can’t do anything and look at me now I just built an entire water fountain on one petition! So if you have an idea go for it don’t hold back keep going because if you don’t do it now you might never accomplish it later.”
Ivan also thanked several people who helped him with the project.
“My mom’s my inspiration for this because she was the one that told me to go for more than 200 signatures and I ended up getting 402 and I’m really proud of that because that’s almost the entire school, so I’m really proud of that. I also had help from Miss Patty, and Miss Currie, and Miss Cheng and two of my friends, because I couldn’t do it alone; I needed some help. They did help me a lot with all this stuff so thank you to them. Thank you so much.”