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Pioneer Elementary celebrates Earth Day
ARLINGTON – Pioneer Elementary School students spent last week celebrating the Earth and giving back to it as well.
In honor of Earth Day on April 22, students at Pioneer spent the following week honoring the Earth by writing thank you letters, performing nature-related plays and dedicating time and energy working in the Pioneer Elementary School Outdoor Classroom and Science Garden.
The mission of Pioneer Elementary School is to create a sustainable and accessible environmentally sound and eco-friendly Outdoor Classroom within the existing on-site wetlands and Science Garden, according to Beth Trafton, second-grade teacher at Pioneer.
The wetlands include a retention pond, surrounding native trees and plants, ponds and pathways. The outdoor classroom is an on-campus wetland where indigenous plants and animals are ready scientific specimens for students to observe, collect and record their data. The science garden hosts an orchard with 12 fruit trees, raised beds, composting bins and a gardening shed.
Last week, several first- and second- grade students went out to the outdoor classroom with six blank pages and, with a little direction, sketched native plants for trail guides. A local company, Northwest Sawdust, donated two large truck-loads of alder chips and “bucket brigades” helped spread the chips on the trails.
Other students cleaned out old leaves and overgrowth from the raised plant beds, and one parent donated dried compost to be used for mixing with soil to refill those beds. Students also worked on re-sanding the track box and cleaning out the bat houses.
“We’re trying to have the community be as much a part of this as we can,” said Trafton. “And also have the kids learn how to treat the Earth.”
Some of the school’s outdoor Earth Week activities were rained out, however, the respect for Mother Earth carried on indoors. Second-grade students in Annette Braaten and Trafton’s class performed Reader Theater plays about the Earth, which they presented for the younger students. Many classroom teachers had students write thank you letters addressed to the Earth, which were put on display in the building.
These events were not only in conjunction with Earth Day, but also coincided with the 10-year anniversary of the creation of the outdoor classroom and science garden.
“We are celebrating this anniversary with a week-long event that includes trimming, clearing brush and litter and rebarking the trails with alder chips provided by Northwest Sawdust,” said Trafton. The funding for the Earth Week events and activities came from a variety of sources including a Wal Mart grant, an Audobon Society grant, an art grant (for the trail guide sketching), the PTSA (for the reusable kids-sized tools), local company Cuz Concrete and more.