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Students Learn to be Earth's Friends

Local students, young and old, help mark Earth Day in Herndon.

On a sunny April morning, Susan Lilly, the town's naturalist, helped ring in Earth Day 2003 festivities with students from Herndon Elementary School and Herndon High School. In her informal address to first grade students on Tuesday, Lilly stressed the importance of recycling non-renewable resources, like plastic, glass and aluminum. "We want you to reduce, reuse and recycle," Lilly said, rhythmically. "We can help protect the earth and Herndon in general."

Principal Carolyn Gannaway said her first graders, with the help of a $500 grant, are leading the school's recycling project and beautification plan. "Today is great because it helps reinforce the lessons that our students have been learning about," Gannaway said.

About 15 members of Herndon High's organization, Students Against Global Abuse (SAGA) placed a purple martin bird house on the elementary school's front yard. The sky-high house should help attract the birds, whose numbers have dwindled over the years, and, in turn, help to keep the numbers of mosquitoes down. The purple martin can eat up to 2,000 insects, and it especially likes to feed on mosquitoes. "We hope to keep those pesky mosquitoes away this summer," Lilly told the students.

Nawrin Ahmed and Vanessa Durant, sophomores at Herndon and members of SAGA, reminded the students to recycle to help save the nation's streams and rivers.

Representatives from Herndon Elementary's business partner, Minerals Management Service (MMS), were also on hand to teach the students lessons about preserving the earth. Employees will be back on campus on April 25, Arbor Day, to plant a tree in front of the school. "What we do here today won't change the world," Ralph Ainger, of MMS, told the students. "But, it will make the world a little better place."

Stephen C. Shaffer, another MMS employee, enjoyed interacting with the elementary school students, but he said the presence of the high school students would mean more to the younger generation. "It really means more to have the high schoolers here," Shaffer said. "Those young kids really look up to the older kids and I think it is important that they learn that recycling and protecting the earth is pretty cool."