Schools Celebrate Earth Week
Local schools celebrated the Earth all week long ahead of Earth Day on Friday, April 22.
Middle Gate Elementary School began the week with an assembly on Monday, April 18.
"Happy Earth Week everybody!" math/science specialist Jill Bracksieck said at the assembly.
Third graders performed a song sharing the lyrics, "recycling is the thing to do," and "recycle, recycle, recycle now. There's nothing to it if you just know how."
Third graders also created items for an "Earth Week Museum" that went on display at the school later in the week. All of the items were made by recycling other items. Around the museum oatmeal boxes, toilet paper rolls, plastic bottles, and other products were repurposed to make cardboard robots, a working clock, and many other objects. Ms Bracksieck said the third graders study conservation and ecology, so the museum project fit into the third grade curriculum.
During the week Middle Gate students also wrote poetry, participated in a scavenger hunt outside to find natural objects, observed painted lady caterpillars metamorphosing into butterflies, and made bead bracelets, to remember different parts of the Earth by the different beads.
"This week is going to be a great Earth Week," said Middle Gate math resource and intervention instructor Kristen Delgado at the assembly.
Ms Bracksieck also reminded the assembled students about the nonfiction books read during Middle Gate Loves to Read Week, which ran from April 4 to April 8. Author Melissa Stewart's No Monkeys, No Chocolate inspired Middle Gate third graders so much, according to an announcement made during the assembly, they decided to collect loose change from students and staff throughout Earth Week to donate to the Rainforest Foundation.
Fraser Woods Montessori School students began gathering outdoors after 2 pm on Thursday, April 21, for the school's annual Earth Day Ceremony.
One class arrived early and students spread out across the school's grounds, some hugging trees.
When asked why they wanted to celebrate Earth Day, which is nationally recognized on April 22, students responded quickly, some talking over one another, eager to share their excitement.
"It helps you live," one student said.
"We want to keep it healthy, because it keeps us healthy," said another.
"It has everything beautiful in it," another student said.
Soon the entire school was gathered outside in one large circle.
Fraser Woods Montessori School teacher Yun-Kyung Kim led a group of volunteer students through a drumming demonstration at the start of the ceremony, before she and some student helpers led the entire school in singing "This Pretty Planet" by Tom Chapin.
Students, teachers, and staff all sang and made hand motions with the song.
As the group sang the lyrics, "Gentle blue giant, spin us around," everyone turned in a circle where they stood.
Fraser Woods Montessori School Head of School Myriam Woods reminded students to go home and remind their parents about why they celebrated the Earth at school.
She also told students to remember, "Respect, love, and take care of it."
The next day, Friday, April 22, for Earth Day, Hawley Elementary School second graders in Deanna Pearson's class made their way outside the school, to spend an hour and a half cleaning up the grounds of their school. Ms Pearson reports her students collected 24 pounds of garbage.
That same day participating students at Hawley School, Head O' Meadow Elementary School, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Middle Gate, St Rose of Lima School, Fraser Woods Montessori School, and EverWonder Children's Museum received Douglas fir tree seedlings to plant and nurture as part of the Newtown Tree Project, now in its 30th year, according to EverWonder volunteer Pam Fagan.
Ms Fagan returned to her former school, Middle Gate, where she taught as the math/science specialist until retiring, on Friday to distribute the seedlings, with the help of PTA volunteer Jen Sinapi and President Debbie DeBlasi. Ms Sinapi and Ms DeBlasi prepared the seedlings to be distributed to classrooms, where Ms Fagan shared them with participating students.
Ms Fagan told students in Tanya LaBonia's kindergarten class that parents had the opportunity to sign the students up to participate in the Newtown Tree Project, before explaining how each student should bring their seedling home. She also shared some advice for planting the trees.
"Will it be taller than me?" one kindergartener asked Ms Fagan, who responded, "One day."
Through the October Hill Foundation grant, overseen by the Newtown Forest Association, an anonymous "tree lady" has arranged for 30 years of students to receive tree seedlings, each distributed with a paper describing how to plant them.
"Our tree lady will certainly have a legacy in Newtown," said Ms Fagan, while pushing a cart of the seedlings through Middle Gate.