Stu­dents End Year with ‘Rain For­est’

The Covington News - - WORLD -

With the swel­ter­ing heat of sum­mer weigh­ing in the air, thoughts of school­work give way to plans for the long-awaited break. But per­haps the stu­dents of East New­ton El­e­men­tary School will not be quick to for­get some of the lessons learned this past year.

Classes and spe­cial projects at East New­ton have in­cluded teach­ing stu­dents the im­por­tance of re­cy­cling, fourth grade teacher Mary Anne Smith said. And the chil­dren are not just learn­ing in the class­room, they are tak­ing that knowl­edge home with them, third grade teacher Bar­bara Kin­naird said in a re­cent in­ter­view.

Al­though many of the en­vi­ron­men­tal dis­plays made by stu­dents dur­ing the year had been taken down by the last day of school, the halls were lined with repli­cas of en­dan­gered species. One de­tailed dis­play fea­tured dis­play fea­tured an­i­mals and plants found in a rain­for­est. This ex­hibit was com­plete with the noises found in such a jun­gle, recorded onto a cas­sette tape.

“With rain­forests be­ing de­stroyed at a rate of 100 acres per minute, the rain­forests and ev­ery­thing in them are en­dan­gered,” Smith said.

Three classes par­tic­i­pated in mak­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion. Smith’s, Ju­lia Gib­bons’ and Kim Young’s fourth grade stu­dents helped cut out the an­i­mals and plants that cover the en­tire end of one hall­way. The stu­dents also made their own “Save the Rain Forests” T-shirts.

“The kids did all the an­i­mals colored them, cut them out and stuffed them,” Smith said.

School-wide aware­ness about the en­vi­ron­ment has been pro­moted by teach­ing the stu­dents about en­dan­gered an­i­mals and par­tic­i­pa­tion in news­pa­per and class­room paper re­cy­cling, Smith said.

For ap­prox­i­mately ev­ery 120 pounds of paper re­cy­cled, one tree is saved, she said. AT the be­gin­ning of April, fourth grade stu­dent Josh Lowry pre­dicted the stu­dents would be able to save about 20 trees. In April, 760 pounds of class­room paper had been col­lected to be re­cy­cled. By the be­gin­ning of June, that amount had grown to 1,841 pounds, or 15.7 trees, Smith said.

Stu­dents at East New­ton have been in­volved in adopt­ing en­dan­gered an­i­mals, par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Earth Day on the Square cel­e­bra­tion and even re­cy­cling their own paper in the class­room. East New­ton also adopted three baby go­ril­las at Zoo At­lanta and the money do- nated by the school will be used to care for the an­i­mals. A plaque will be dis­payed at the zoo nam­ing the school as the adopter, Smith said.

Smith added that she wants to con­tinue in­clud­ing the im­por­tance of the en­vi­ron­ment in t East New­ton’s cur­ricu­lum. Next year, she hopes to try and make the grounds of the school a wildlife habi­tat and pos­si­bly join some en­vi­ron­men­tal groups, Na­ture Con­ser­vancy and the Rain For­est Ac­tion Net­work are two or­ga­ni­za­tions un­der con­sid­er­a­tion, she said. How­ever, she made it clear that they were only pos­si­bil­i­ties.

“We want to make sure they are there to re­ally help the en­vi­ron­ment,” Smith said. She added that stu­dents would con­tinue mak­ing and sell­ing but­tons and mag­nets to raise money to adopt more en­dan­gered an­i­mals, a pro­gram spon­sored by the PTO.

Teach­ers will be go­ing to en­vi­ron­men­tal work­shops this sum­mer, Smith said. “And stu­dents will con­tinue the re­cy­cling pro­gram next year, she added.

“The chil­dren are very en­vi­ron­men­tally aware now,” Smith said. “The ma­jor idea is to help our chil­dren be­come en­vi­ron­men­tally aware and re­spon­si­ble.”

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