Harker celebrated Earth Day 2016 in a big way on April 22, with activities across many grade levels, highlighting Harker’s schoolwide dedication to sustainability.
At the upper school, Earth Day celebrations began as early as the previous week, as students, faculty and staff engaged in the Green Challenge. Using an app called SJEnvironment, participants made note of and “buzzed” each act of sustainability they performed over a weeklong period. Simple actions such as refilling water bottles, minimizing shower time, turning off lights and appliances, and taking public transit could all be recorded in the app for points that were later tallied. Participants were awarded with prizes from Starbucks, Sports Basement, Summer Winds Nursery, Aqui Restaurant and other businesses.
“Our hope is that through participating in the Green Challenge, everyone learned how many simple actions we can each take every day to help promote sustainability and reduce our carbon footprint,” said upper school Spanish teacher Diana Moss, who is also the upper school representative for the Harker Green Committee.
Upper school biology teacher and Green Committee member Kate Schafer added that it “challenged our students to think about their actions and modify those actions and learn about why it’s important to modify those actions.”
The upper school campus was also the location of the final Eagle Buddies event of the year, in which grades 3 and 10 teamed up to make special flags with imprints of leaves and other objects found in nature.
Lower school students celebrated at special Earth Day-themed stations set up by BEST staff. Students in grades 4 and 5 gathered at a table to make crafts from recycled materials, while second graders made potted plants from plastic bottles and string. Kindergartners dressed up as “Earth Jedis” and trekked about the lower school campus picking up trash and recyclables.
The preschool campus was the center of much activity, despite rainy weather consigning it to the indoors. Grade 8 students visited their preschool friends in the Eco Buddies program. In a number of cottages, the middle schoolers set up stations to demonstrate various ecological concepts. One station demonstrated the concept of solar power by having a solar-power operated toy car move around when light was shone on it. At another station, eighth graders used a sock puppet (a stand-in for a worm) to explain Harker’s “wet/dry” waste disposal program: anything that the worm ate would go into the “wet” bin, while anything the worm rejected was headed to the “dry” bin. Other students cobbled together bird houses, made water filters and cut out makeshift helicopters that twirled to the ground when dropped.
“I thought that this was a really cool buddy program, especially since we don’t do very many at middle school,” said Tasha Moorjani, grade 8. “I liked it a lot, for the most part, and my favorite bit was when I realized that the kids were genuinely interested, because it made me really excited to teach them.”