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Instead of exchanging gifts for the winter holidays, the children and teachers in all three classes collected items to donate to the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NHSPCA) in Stratham NH. Mrs McFarlin delivered piles of times, including blankets, towels, food, treats, toys, etc. for the animals cared for by the shelter. (The group also made a collection and donations in May 2006.)
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We did a study of owls. One of our moms found a dead barred owl beside the road. She brought it in for the kids to examine up close. At the next meeting we did an owl pellet dissection. We studied which owls are native to Maine and which Owls live in our area of Maine. We planned a project to build owl houses. The kids read "Owl in the Family" and "There is an Owl in the Shower" which led to a discussion of the needs of humans vs. the needs of animals. Some of the kids saw live owls at the Gray Wild Animal Park. All of the kids saw the owls on exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science and tried the the flight pattern exhibit.
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We participated in the afghans for Afghans project. The kids knit or crocheted 5" squares which were then put together to create a warm wool afghan to be sent to folks who were in need in Afghanistan. Some of the kids learned to knit or crochet for the first time. We also collected squares and contributions from other homeschool groups. In all we sent one large afghan, one baby blanket, three hats and one pair of mittens. Some of the older kids watched the movies "Beauty School of Kabul" "Search for the Afghan Girl" and "Afghanistan Revealed". Some of the kids read the book "The Breadwinner". We discussed the climate, geography and politics in Afghanistan. We culminated the project with a potluck of Afghani food.
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Our group participated in the Great PA Clean-up Day. We cleaned five local parks and schools, collecting trash and litter along the way. We rewarded the kids afterwards for a job well done by getting them ice cream.
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We are supporting the international Roots & Shoots campaign for the creation of five new nurseries in Tanzania by planting trees locally. The goal is to raise $10,000 for Tanzania and plant 3,000 trees nationally. We have already started planting trees with the Friends of the Urban Forest in San Francisco. This summer we will work with Urban Releaf to plant in Oakland. Eventually, we hope to bring new trees to the urban areas of Fruitvale and Southwest Berkeley. Panda miti!
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September 21, 2006 was the first time this holiday was celebrated officially on campus. Together with the Peace and Conflicts Studies Department, we created a peace dove display and put on a program with guest speakers, music and a minute of silence to increase student awareness, promote a global ceasefire and celebrate international peace and nonviolence.
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This is a special week on campus where all the environmental organizations as well as local community groups and green businesses gather together to promote sustainability. In addition to student outreach, we had a public showing of "Ambassadors of the Ocean," a documentary on protecting sea turtles.
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Our main project for this semester has been running hands-on environmental classes for children. Previous topics covered include energy and water conservation, recycling and waste reduction, global climate change mitigation, endangered species and wildlife protection and environmental justice. We believe learning about these issues is not only interesting, but an essential part of early education because our children will be the leaders and decision-makers of the future. We hope to teach them sustainable habits and ideas at a young age and encourage innovation, thus empowering them to change the world by correcting the mistakes of the past. While we focus on the environment, we also cover topics concerning human communities and animals because the world is interconnected. Additionally, our after-school workshops provide the children in the underserved communities of Oakland Chinatown and southwest Berkeley with a safe after-school environment to play and learn. This is a long-term project that we will be continuing throughout summer and into next year, hopefully for many more years to come. 2 units of course credit is offered to our volunteers through the Education Department.
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Once a year, our campus hosts an open house for prospective students and the general public. Thousands of people visit and hundreds of organizations put on displays, lectures and performances. We participated by conducting public outreach with other environmental groups to showcase best practices in sustainability on campus. We also taught visitors to fold origami animals out of one-side clean paper and write empowering, positive messages on them. We later distributed the paper animals to patients at the Children's Hospital of Oakland.
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The second grade class at Friends Academy formed a Roots & Shoots group this year. After studying about Jane Goodall and then the rainforests, they decided that the endangered habitat of the chimpanzees needed to be saved. As a group, these children decided to raise money within their school by collecting otherwise unused items such as recyclable cans and bottles and pennies. They set a goal of $100 (USD) in one month of collecting. The children made many awareness posters and a poster to chart their progress. They created four levels of goals, one for each layer of the rainforest, ($10 = the forest floor, $25=the understory $50=canopy $100= emergent layer.) They gathered plastic bins and decorated them with rainforest pictures to collect cans and bottles in around the school. They also decorated a 5 gallon water bottle to gather pennies in. The children took turns collecting and cashing in the recyclables and counting the pennies. One child brought the poster to the Roots & Shoots event at Western Connecticut State University and presented the project o Jane Goodall. The children were very excited that Jane Goodall actually saw and touched their poster. The group has decided to repeat this successful project again.

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