The day began with a special all-school assembly. Harris Theater was packed to the gills for student, faculty, and guest presentations. 4th Graders Elizabeth Gokey and Spencer Berrent gave presentations on the dangers of single-use plastics based on their recent social justice reading elective. Berrent announced a new recycling program where Green Vale will collect used magic markers of all types and ship to Crayola to be recycled. Collection boxes are located in each building's lobby.
Former GVS parent Frank O'Keefe, a scientist and environmental entrepreneur, spoke about the science of climate change with a focus on the carbon cycle, rising sea levels, and the acidification of the ocean. To inspire students that it's possible to make a difference at a young age, he spoke about a 15-year old climate activist in Sweden who spoke before parliament.
Finally, a rock band comprised of teachers called The Earth Tones performed "We Love Planet Earth" to the tune of "I love Rock and Roll."
The rest of the day featured rotations through the following sustainability-themed stations:
- Beautifying the campus and experiencing nature in a deliberately tactile way by planting annuals;
- "The Game of Life" which demonstrated the interconnectedness of species and the impact of human activity on the fragile food chain;
- A lesson facilitated by the dining staff on the problem of food waste and ways to reduce waste at home as well as approaches being used by Green Vale. From juicing tired vegetables to making banana bread from brown bananas and the global benefits of plant-based foods, students learned about the environmental impact of their food choices.
- A demonstration of natural cleaning products as alternatives to products toxic to human health and to the water supply. Students practiced cleaning drinking cups with baking soda and vinegar and then added corn starch to the solution for a more powerful cleaning agent which they used to scrub a dirty life preserver.
- Making seashell mosaics (shells courtesy of Sarah Hossfeld's mother)
- Hearing a storybook based on the infamous 1987 "Islip garbage barge" saga and how it changed the way Long Island collects and disposes of trash. Students realized that our trash doesn't simply "go away" -- it has to be put somewhere.
- Display of Pre-K creations made entirely from elements collected from nature. This display derived from the student-directed learning aspect of the GVS Portrait of Learning, since students generated the idea after seeing photos of teacher Joanne Pappas' trip to the NY Botanical Gardens.