Reusing and recycling were the talk of the town on Friday as Mother Lode students celebrated Earth Day in advance.
Belleview Elementary School fifth-graders Madeline Birtwhistle, 10 (above left), and Aislinn Fell, 10, work on making butterfly windsocks Friday in celebration of Earth Day. Maggie Beck/Union Democrat, copyright 2012
Belleview Elementary teachers dressed in tie-dye shirts and faux flower wreaths for the school’s Earth Day activities, which included picking up litter and lessons on reusing everyday items.
Later, Sonora High students got the chance to plant bonsai trees and play with solar-powered model cars. A Sonora Elementary e-waste recycling drive also proved successful after community members dropped off old TV sets and computers.
Earth Day was Sunday.
Belleview Elementary set up eight Earth Day activity stations during the school day Friday, continuing an annual tradition that teachers started a few years ago.
“It’s a great opportunity to have fun … and learn ways to help the environment,” said Belleview Elementary Principal Paula Maucere, who had a peace sign painted on her face at the face-painting station.
An added bonus was getting students to beautify the campus, with groups taking turns picking up trash and pulling weeds.
“After about four groups, we cleaned up the whole campus,” said eighth-grade teacher Pete Larkin. A few of the students got so much unexpected enjoyment out of pulling weeds that they asked to do it longer.
In the gym, students ran around globes to represent the amount of time it would take common items to decompose in a landfill. Plastic water bottles stick around for several hundred years, a fact that required the students to run a few more laps around the globe.
The goal was for students to understand the purpose of recycling.
In another classroom, a group of students learned about reusable coffee cups and grocery bags.
“Recycling is becoming such a way of life,” Maucere said. “They all see the reusable bags in the grocery store.”
The school’s goal for Friday was to teach students about the importance of those now-ubiquitous items, but do it in a positive way, Maucere explained.
Sonora High held an Earth Day celebration after school on Friday, part of student Kelly Rankin’s senior project. Meredith Dean, of Strawberry, brought tubs filled with dirt and worms to show how composting works.
Chemistry teacher Lynn Skutches brought along the solar-powered miniature cars, which would theoretically keep rolling as long as the sun stays out and nothing got in the way.
Sonora Elementary parents pitched in by hosting an e-waste collection day. Getting rid of appliances in an environmentally friendly way can be costly, but on Friday community members could drop their old electronics off at no charge in the Sonora Elementary parking lot.
Sonora parent Tammy McVey, who helped organize the collection day, said that a hot water heater and two ovens were among the items dropped off.
Wrangler Environmental Services, the company that handled the e-waste collection at Sonora Elementary, will strip each appliance of all usable parts, and Support Sonora School will get a portion of the proceeds.
“We got quite a bit this year,” McVey said. “We don’t look at it as a moneymaker, but more of a community event.”