Spring Hill Elementary School kicked off a new tradition this year for Earth Day. The entire student body shared their own interpretation of the importance of Earth Day through a school-wide art show and talent contest. The students created a variety of artistic creations, ranging from visual art to poetry and performance art. The celebration concluded with a recycled-goods fashion show.
The program was inspired by members of the school’s administration who believe that it’s crucial to teach today’s children how to responsibly use and dispose of resources.
“What we’re looking for is lifelong skills,” said school Principal Roger Vanderhye. “Because that world that they’re going to be living in is going to be far different than the one that I was raised in, and that many of our teachers were raised in. We’re going to have to reduce the amount of materials that we use, we’re going to have to recycle, and we’re definitely going to have to figure out how to reuse. And if we can get them, at this level, to feel this way, that’s important.”
The school’s environmental effort included more than an art contest. Students are responsible, daily, for ensuring that trash or recycled goods are disposed of properly in the cafeteria and throughout the school. The results were measured and counted over the course of the past year, and the numbers were significant. When Vanderhye announced the results of the recycling efforts to the student body, the audience erupted into cheers. They were proud to learn that the total amount of their school’s recycling increased by about 52 percent. This amounted to a total decrease in trash collected of 38 percent or 21,000 lbs. More than 5,000 unopened food items were collected and donated to SHARE in five months, 10,000 plastic bags were recycled, and more than 6,000 juice pouches were collected to be reused.
On stage, several groups of students shared creative performances ranging from skits to rapping, to video performances. A panel of judges made up of teachers and a local artist sat nearby, ready to select a winner. Finally, the results were announced. Winners included Noor Afzal, Clarissa and Emily Caslli, Jennifer Mears, Kushaan Vardhan, Jenna Cai, Kacy Lee, Summer Parise, Sofie Sharpe, Caroline Lavin, Bella Holloman, Ashley Saxenian, Tiffany Parise, Jisoo Park, and Julia Gilbert. The performance award went to rappers Zander Kuebler, Will Tedesco, Antonio Hernandez, and Nedim Ozden.
The children overwhelmingly agreed to make their Earth Day celebration an annual tradition. “The earth is our planet,” said fifth grader Tiffany Parise. “It gives us resources. And we have to try to preserve it as much as we can.”