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Laurel Students Part of Record-Setting Group

Students and teachers from 10 Northeast Ohio schools set the record for the most people carrying bottles on their heads as part of their clean-water drive.

Editor's note: Shaker Heights Patch will launch very soon, but we are so excited to be in the new town, we thought, why wait to start making your lives ridiculously easy? We'll be featuring occasional Shaker Heights news on neighboring sites until we launch the new site in early June, when you can add ShakerHeights.Patch.com to your browser's bookmarks!

Friday was a record-setting day at Classic Park in Eastlake without the use of bats or a few fastballs.

Donning bright blue "H2Know" shirts, 474 students and staff from Laurel School, and eight other Northeast Ohio schools shattered the world record for the greatest amount of people simultaneously carrying bottles on their heads. A group in Toronto previously held the record with nearly 200 fewer participants.

The students and teachers pulled off the feat at a celebration for the schools that participated in the Schools for Water program this school year. Mentor native Katie Spotz started the collaborative initiative to raise money so schools in Kenya could have clean water. In its first year, the effort has for the Blue Planet Network, which supports clean-water projects around the world.

They walked around the field with green bottles atop their heads, some opting to hold them in place. It wasn't easy, though. There were repeated drops and groans of, "Do we have to keep going?" Still, the students understood the symbolism behind their record and the importance of their fund raising throughout the year.

"It's all about saving water," said Ajah Hale, a sixth-grader at Laurel School in Shaker Heights. "Who wouldn't want to do that?"

Ajah was part of the science class teacher Soraya Ahmad brought to Classic Park. The girls previously met Spotz and created their own water bottles for sale to show support for the cause. They also skipped the school's Green and White spirit day event in order to be at the Classic Park celebration.

"I decided it would be better to have (a spirit day event) and help people and the environment," sixth-grader Emmy Francek said.

Spotz, who visited Kenya last year, was most impressed by the students' enthusiasm.

"I'm so blown away by what the kids have done," Spotz said. "When I was a kid, I didn't really know anything about this and I didn't have those ideas to do all the types of fundraisers they have. They really connected on an intimate level, knowing the schools (in Africa) they're supporting.

"They're invested in it, and you see it here today and you see it in their schools."

Spotz has and with a broken hip to raise money for parts of the world without clean water. She started Schools for Water to get more people involved.

"Everyone can be involved with water and giving back," she said.

As for the record, Spotz had been in touch with officials at the Guinness World Book of Records. They required the students to carry 350-milligram bottles while walking 328 feet.

"Katie Spotz has inspired the Laurel girls to create their own water bottles and there's water awareness all over the place," Laurel math teacher Mandy Rosplock said.

"She definitely lit a fire in us."

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