Hamden Hall students in myriad classes throughout all levels will help “Restore Our Earth,” the theme for Earth Day 2021, by participating in such activities as cutting back on plastic water bottles and decorating reusable grocery bags.
Hamden Hall students have long participated in Earth Day programming both on campus and off. Of course this year, with COVID restrictions in place, planning environmentally conscious learning projects has been challenging. Nonetheless, even the smallest of initiatives brings awareness of the meaning behind Earth Day, including Upper School teacher Jennifer Manley’s class activity.
Students in Mrs. Manley’s sophomore English class will view David Attenborough’s documentary, A Life on this Planet, and then compose a collaborative earth day poem.
“I wanted my students to focus their attention on climate change and the importance of biodiversity, and since we’re wrapping up our unit on poetry, the idea for a collaborative poem came to mind. Each student will contribute a stanza based on their reactions and thoughts from the documentary,” explained Mrs. Manley.
In the Middle School, the goal is to cut back on the number of plastic water bottles consumed each day out at the Beckerman Athletic Center. According to Middle School Director Brian Christman, “students use 350 to 375 plastic water bottles per week.”
“The idea is for us to cut down on waste, and the water bottles are unnecessary because of the two bottle filling stations we have at Beckerman. Our lunches this year have been amazing, but they use up a lot of materials such as bags, plastic containers, water bottles, etc. If we can cut down on waste and recycle as much as possible, we'll reduce our environmental impact,” said Mr. Christman.
Our second-graders continued a Hamden Hall tradition that enhances students’ environmental knowledge while employing their artistry skills for a community service project. After learning about our planet and ways to help sustain it, students decorated large paper bags that were supplied by Hamden Hall neighbor and friend Whitneyville Food Center, which is owned by Patrice Notarfrancesco PP 1991. The local market will distribute the bags to customers today.
“Students decorated the bags using a variety of ‘Save the Earth’ images and expressions. The market will use them on Earth Day for their customers' groceries,” maintained Lower School art teacher Susan Bennett 1973.
Mrs. Bennett further noted that the “Earth Day Groceries Project” generates interest in reuse, recycling, and forestry.
“Being a part of a national program is exciting on many levels, and being a part of our smaller Hamden community makes it even more meaningful to the second-grader artists,” she said.
In our sixth-grade classrooms, students took a walk this week and enjoyed the beauty of their surroundings and nearby Edgerton Park. As a local resource, the public park conservancy is a 25-acre “green space jewel” that many Hamden Hall students have engaged with since it was given to the City of New Haven in 1965 by Frederick F. Brewster.
“It’s an opportunity to see a beautiful park within walking distance. We visited greenhouse there as well,” said sixth-grade teacher Beth Hunter.
Back on campus, every day is Earth Day for our Early Childhood students because of their exclusive Learning Garden, according to Early Childhood Director Catelin Fee 2004!
“Every year, we plant bulbs in the fall and wait for them to pop up. When we came back from March break, we were delighted to see all of our flowers that bloomed,” said Mrs. Fee.
Our youngest students water, plant, pull weeds, and harvest in the Learning Garden each year as the outdoor space is “a work in progress.” The garden provides opportunities for science lessons, fine and gross motor development, sensory experiences, and lots of time engaging in outdoor learning.
“We discuss how to take care of our gardens, which in turn takes care of our Earth. Each class has planted various seeds inside their classrooms the past few weeks and we will transfer them to the Learning Garden soon. With our indoor Tower Garden and outdoor Learning Garden, we are learning the importance of environmental responsibility,” maintained Mrs. Fee.