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Roots & Shoots members created artwork for an exhibit that was displayed during the Rialto Arts concert on June 1, 2007. Gustav Mahler's song cycle, "The Song of the Earthe" was performed, and there were other presentations inspired by concern for the environment. The artwork was hand-delivered to our Boston group leader, Christine Ellersick at Earthfest on May 26th. Roots & Shoots members were able to meet Christine and her assistant, and visit the Roots & Shoots booth.
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We are currently working in Guatemala for 10 days with a program called Safe Passage. Nine students and two adults from Country Day are volunteering each day with children of the Guatemala City dump. Safe Passage is a program started in 1992 to aid the children of the dump. 600 children now attend the program (ages 6 months to 17 years). Before the program started children would go to work with their parents scavenging the dump for food, recyclable materials and items for resale. The children now have a safe haven to go while their parents "work". The families of the area live in the poorest of conditions - a single room with a dirt floor and a house made out of tin. Some homes have tarps for roofs. Thirty families may share one tap and sink and one outhouse. Through education the project offers a chance to the children to break the cycle of poverty. They have a safe place to learn and play as well as good food and medical attention. This is an amazing program run by amazing people (almost 50 volunteers) with children who are strong and somewhat resilient. For the first time in their lives the children have hope for a better future. I recommend this to everyone!
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The night before Halloween, the Principia Roots & Shoots Club presented a "Creepy Crawly Night" for the elementary school community. Each Roots & Shoots student researched and presented a traditionally maligned animal, and the children were invited to interact with the critter. We presented live snakes roaches, tarantulas, crickets and tadpoles from the biology classroom.
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To encourage the Principia Community to view environmental consciousness as a lifestyle, our club staged a 3-week buildup to Earth Day. Each week's theme was a level in the waste management hierarchy. During RECYCLE week, we placed easily accessible, well-marked recycling bins on each hall. Recycling is now available anywhere a trash can is found. At the end of RECYCLE week, we sponsored an electronics recycling event for the school community. We managed to collect 8 pallets piled 6 ft high with old e-waste.The equipment was recycled by an EPA-approved processor. During REUSE Week, if someone was seen reusing or reducing, a club member would write them a ticket. Students, Faculty, and Staff saved these tickets, and 3 prizes were drawn after Earth Day. Winners received a school water bottle. REUSE week ended with a weekend "Clothes Swap," an opportunity for girls to trade clothing as an alternative to shopping for new garments. 50+ pounds of leftover clothes were collected at the end, and we donated them to Goodwill. During REDUCE Week, we reduced the size of all classroom waste containers. The janitorial team replaced each one with a container that matched the size of the room's recycling bin. In the lobby, we set up a "say no to junk mail" table. Passers-by filled out cards to remove their address from wasteful junk mailing lists. We collected 45+ cards, and submitted these to the national mail preference service. We also printed waste reduction reminders, to install on each paper towel dispenser in the school. The notes cited statistics on the school's annual paper towel use. Finally, we held a WASTE-FREE lunch day. Day students brought their lunch in reusable containers. Boarders were encouraged to be careful about how much food they took from the line. The School reduced lunch waste by 30% (16 pounds) compared to a recent comparable menu day! We rewarded the student body with a Jeans/Flip Flops day!
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The Roots & Shoots club organized, rehearsed and performed "Trashed!", an informative and fun game show, to help the student body understand their campus recycling program. The game show pitted a group of four students against a team of of four teachers. They had to answer questions about recycling. If they got the question wrong, they would be handed a large black bag of trash, which would burden them throughout the remainder of the game.
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The goal of the work day is to clear the forest of non-native species and brush trees. This benefits the environment by maintaining the forest preserves natural balance and allowing sunlight to reach the forest floor, making it possible for woodland plants to thrive. We cleared a lot of buckthorn, a non-native and highly invasive species, taking care to bring down as many female trees as possible. The birds eat the berries and eliminate the seeds in their waste. We used saws and loppers and created a huge brush pile for future burning. It is amazing how big of a pile a group can make in such short order. We've been there twice and plan to go back to burn in the fall or winter. The children involved in this project were inspiring in their determination to get the job done despite the heat and the overwhelming roar of the cicadas. The stewards we work with are wonderful, accepting people, willing to guide but not direct our boys in their efforts.
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Roots & Shoots club students accepted donations of plant clippings and houseplant pots from community members. They also clipped tons of extra growth from the biology greenhouse. They invested in a few bags of quality potting soil, and propagated nearly a hundred houseplants and arrangements. A few weeks later, the students sold these low-maintenance houseplants to the community, to raise money for earth month.
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Program Director Scott made a presentation to our Homeschoolers. He told us how the local agency, Ayudantes-"the Helper", lost most of their funding. In spite of this, they plan to go ahead and offer Play Therapy to children of clients. So, Alvord Homeschool R & S members brought in puzzles, games, stuffed animals, toys for the sand tray, pillows, books and blankets which we set up in the therapy room and waiting room. The non-profit agency helps low-income families with counseling services. This project is the result of research done by the group leader. Our goal was to set up the Play Therapy room and waiting room for children of clients. We learned that there are less fortunate children that need various types of help to feel good.
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Roots & Shoots decided to throw a no/low waste party to show how people could have a good time without creating a lot of waste. We had outdoor activities and provided healthy snacks in compostable cups/bowls which we put directly into our school's compost bins. We made posters on recycled paper. We made informational announcements about the amount of waste each person creates daily and yearly and ways to reduce our waste. This also tied in to part of the 6th grade curriculum which focuses on pollution. We had about 6o participants from grades 5-8 and raised $50 which will be donated to a charity and the funds will be matched by our parent association.
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The OCRS Smithfield Roots & Shoots team participated in an endangered species play. Students choreographed dances, composed original poems, made props, created costumes and performed a play for Old County Road School classmates, parents, faculty and staff. The message of the play was one that highlighted the Roots & Shoots goals of care and concern for all animals and implementing positive change through active learning about, caring for and interacting with the environment. Through dance and poetry, students entertained and informed their audience about different endangered species, the threats these animals face because of humans and what we can do to help.

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