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Plymouth Elementary goes green!

Students partake in full day of awareness activities

by Matt Perloff
Editor of The Record Enterprise

Plymouth Elementary School students pour “water” on a model town to simulate stormwater runoff, a demo provided by the NH Department of Transportation during the school’s GO GREEN Day. (click for larger version)
May 14, 2010
PLYMOUTH — Going green has been a theme embraced by the Plymouth Elementary School community the past two years. In celebration of Earth Day and their commitment to environmental and ecological awareness, students engaged in a full-day of GO GREEN activities last Friday.

The entire PES student body had the day off from normal classes and instead took part in a full schedule of workshops, demonstrations, games and more, all centered around the GO GREEN theme the school has followed. The event culminated two years of focus on promoting green practices and understanding, as well as celebrating two environmental holidays: Earth Day (held during the April vacation) and Arbor Day.

Students placed a variety of plants along the cross country path running alongside the parking lot. These plants, bought through funds from a NH Fish & Game grant, are intended to attract migratory birds to the area. (click for larger version)
The day started with a school-wide opening ceremony, which include songs and poems recited by students, as well as all taking the Earth Day and Arbor Day pledges. The PES Student Council also presented their donation of a rain barrel for the rebuilt greenhouse.

Grades 4-8 circulated through a variety of stations. Students had the opportunity to place plants (learn about migratory birds the plants they're intended to attract), plant tomatoes, make recycled paper and learn about different sources and applications of alternative energy, among other exhibits and demonstrations. Students also were given time to help clean the trail for the newly-dedicated Outdoor Classroom, a nature trail running between the PES and Plymouth Regional High School grounds.

Grades K-3 would participate in their own array of programs. Aiming for more age-appropriate activities, games such as relay races and scavenger hunts were incorporated into several of the stations for younger students, while students from Plymouth State University helped organize and run a variety of games to play out on the field hockey field in the afternoon.

Students in grades K-3 participate in a variety of games organized by Plymouth State University students. (click for larger version)
All students also received a carbon footprint bag, which they'd be given time to decorate.

Ellen Hand and Julie Panus, who spearheaded event, noted the idea for a full day of green-themed activities had been floating around for a while, but they'd really gotten into planning and organizing the schedule over the past month. They give credit to the many teachers and organizations who came together to help make the day's activities a reality, a combined effort of the school and community to provide a culminating event to Plymouth Elementary's two-year GO GREEN experience.

"It's made an impression on the kids," said Panus. "To see it rather than just talk about it makes it more real."

One of the Alternative Energy stations exhibits foods and materials at different stages of decomposition. (click for larger version)
In addition to teachers, parents and members of the PSU community, the event received help from several local organizations, including the Local Government Center, NH Department of Transportation, Squam Lake Association, NH Fish & Game and more, many contributing their time to the learning stations set up all over the PES campus. The NH Electric Co-op also donated reusable bags for all the students, while Stonyfield Farms provided organic yogurt, which students were able to enjoy during breaks in their activities.

With this unique, hands-on experience, students delved into the GO GREEN theme like never before, getting to both learn and take part in activities to help them further their environmental awareness and how to apply it in their daily lives. "It's nice to see the kids not just talk the talk, but walk the walk," said Hand.

Though PES will be moving to a new theme next year, it's hoped that the GO GREEN mentality will live on and even evolve as students focus on leadership. Even better, the students' knowledge carries from the classrooms to the home, where parents too learn ways they can contribute through their children's experiences. "You teach the kids, they teach the parents," said Hand.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
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