Students End Year with ‘Rain Forest’
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.”