CTRA Celebrates Earth Day
What better place to celebrate Earth Day than at our own Connecticut River Academy! Following is a write-up from CTRA student reporter Lydia Griffin.
On Friday, April 25, the Connecticut River Academy held its second annual Earth Day celebration. CTRA students were given the opportunity to experience several environmentally themed events, such as a career fair, planting, riverside cleanup, and a buffet filled with fresh ingredients. The goal of the day’s events, in the words of main coordinator Ms. Saulis, was to “empower students to make informed decisions about…[their] health, nature, and quality of life.” With this celebration of Earth Day, CTRA aimed to make students more aware of the choices they can make to improve themselves and their environment.
To that end, the Connecticut River Academy invited many organizations to take part in its first “career fair.” Over a dozen local organizations were given booths, which lined CTRA’s second floor hallway. Students were given the opportunity to learn about organically grown, sustainable food sources from the CEO of FreshFarm, the importance of maintaining the delicate ecosystem of Connecticut River by a River Steward, and the growing advantage to using environmentally friendly building techniques by a spokeswoman for Living Green. The town of Portland’s geographical survey taught students that acknowledging the environment was key to public safety, while East Hartford’s Public Health Department informed students about the negative effects of polluted drinking water that the Public Health Department protects citizens from. Goodwin College’s own environmental department was also present at the career fair, reminding students that environmental studies are not simply theoretical and that students could very well make a career out of protecting the environment, if they so chose.
Outside, students could involve themselves in activities like planting new trees or cleaning up the litter surrounding the nearby riverbank. With the help of teachers Ms. Morales and Ms. Pereira, as well as Dan Connelly — an environmental science intern from the University of Connecticut — students planted the Connecticut River Academy’s first annual Earth Day tree, a beautiful sugar maple. CTRA senior Sonsherae Owens coordinated the creation of vertical gardens out of palettes. She’d been instructed in the planting technique during her time in the Summer of Solutions program; she did a wonderful job sharing her knowledge with fellow students. Students were also able to take part in a riverside cleanup, which was overseen by Mr. Metler. By the end of the day, CTRA students had managed to remove a large pile of trash from the riverbanks. Both activities helped students not only get in touch with their surroundings, but also improve the environment around their school. Other activities included an environmentally themed scavenger hunt, led by Ms. Keeney and Ms. Minor, and a set of games coordinated by Ms. Haggerty.
Finally, after taking part in the career fair and outdoor activities, students could travel to the cafeteria, where a buffet of fresh, non-processed food could be sampled. Students from CTRA’s Food Systems class were involved in the creation of this buffet from beginning to end; they chose which meals would be served and helped Mr. Kilgus with the creation of the meals. While waiting for their food, students had the chance to transform regular river rocks into pieces of art using paint and decorate a banner using paint-covered vegetables. Both of these activities allowed students to take everyday items from nature and use them to create beautiful works of art.
Reception of the celebration was overall positive; the combination of activities and food managed to hold the interest of even students who had no previous interest in environmental subjects. For example, Ray Mitchell, a freshman at Connecticut River Academy, “found the water [sanitation] booth interesting” and “had fun” during the festivities. Although she is not interested in pursuing an environmental major at this time, Ray — like many students at CTRA — nonetheless found the Earth Day celebration to be engaging as well as educational. This Earth Day, students at the Connecticut River Academy learned more about their community, improved their surroundings, and had fun while doing it.