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We made houses from the Habitat for Humanity Paper House campaign and sent them to state and federal legislatures as an effort to raise awareness for affordable housing.
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Our Volunteen Roots & Shoots group used the homeless liaison on in our intermediate school district to provide us with a working homeless family in need of Christmas gifts/clothes/food. We provided outerwear, wish list gifts, food cards, clothing, boots, shoes and toiletries to a family of 6 who had lost their home due to a fire. We solicited donations from our own school families, school staff members, area businesses and students. Food baskets were assembled from the items stored in our own pantry given by students as credit for attendance at meetings. Many staff members gave Adopt-a-Family donations in lieu of staff gifts. Gifts are wrapped, packed, and delivered by students. This is an annual activity that is very well-supported and successful.
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Our main goal was to commit, as an entire class, on a few simple ways to save energy. The students chose to use one light switch in the classroom instead of all 3 each day and to make an effort to put the computer in sleep mode when it is not being used. We have been making these efforts as a class for several weeks leading up to our school's Learning Arts Fair and plan to continue the habits. The students researched facts about how simple changes like the ones we chose make an impact, locally and globally. This information was posted in a nice hallway display for all to see. The students were SHOCKED by the facts they found and the impact they have on the environment just in our little classroom community.
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We, the Wadsworth Community Roots & Shoots group now clean up the gazebo area in downtown Wadsworth every other Tuesday of each month. It takes about 30 minutes and we do it during our regular R&S meeting!
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We have done many projects with the Detroit Zoo. An annual event involves setting up, passing out Gatorade and water and cleaning up after Run Wild, a national fundraiser for the Detroit Zoo Veterinary Hospital. Four water stations a half mile apart are staffed. By providing the event coordinator with an intact group of 40, complete with teachers and parents, the water station situation in the 5K and 10K events runs much more smoothly. Several thousand of runners take part in this run, so the water stations are very busy. Additionally, we harness adolescent energy and cheer, applaud and motivate runners. Students often return and run in this event as high school students.
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The 5th grade students choose that theme, because they found bamboo such an interesting building material. It is ecological very useful, because it can save many trees. Trees which grow for many years in order to be harvested, you can harvest bamboo between 5-9 years. The students researched what you can use bamboo for and found out that it is a very fast growing grass, which can be used for all kinds of things, even building houses. You can even eat the bamboo shoots. We made contact with a local bamboo nursery and got a great tour and a whole class on how to grow bamboo, etc. With a donation of several bamboo rhizomes we started a bamboo patch beside our school garden. This will bring us over the next years not only stakes for our tomato plants, but also materials for many other great creations. Our first craft project was a simple pencil holder and a vase, but we found out later that the bamboo was still too fresh and the vases cracked. They were still usable, but not for holding water. The class is now in the process of building 2 different trellises, which we will later use in our garden. The students learned to overcome their limitations about handy man work, and created in small groups very productive team work. The final task for this year will be a little fountain/water feature made out of bamboo. The students came up with this idea when they found out that in Southeast Asia bamboo is used for irrigation systems.
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This project was done by all students from kindergarten class to middle school. After a storm brought down 2 bigger trees, we were left with 2 big tree stumps in front of our green house. We decided to create an herb spiral around this and a donation from a local nursery brought us an abundance of herbs... Lots of volunteers helped us to build the herb spiral with rocks and topsoil. This herb spiral has a little food path leading up to its highest point, so you can either work from this path or from outside around the herb spiral. We planted all kind of herbs and also different mints, which we use for teas. Over the months we learnd about all these different herbs, their medicinal and food values. At every recess we have students visiting the herb spiral and nibble on some herbs. A fundraiser was created to sell the leftover herb plants. With this money we went out and bought a huge box of Real Salt, a salt which hasn't been refined and still had all its minerals. At this point we learned about "whole food" and refined food. In reference to salt we also learned about the value of sea salt, but didn't buy it, because of the pollution in the oceans. In autumn we harvested the herbs, dried them and stored them in a cool and dark place. Shortly before Christmas we hand grinded the herbs with a pestle and a mortar and learned about other kitchen tools, which our grandparents used when there was no electricity. The grinded herbs were mixed with the salt and the delicious herb salt was ready. Beautiful labels were created by each student and the herb salt was filled into small containers. We had a perfect Christmas gift ready. The students are already planning to increase certain herbs in order to start a new herb salt batch, which we will use on our self grown food. Because we also have different kinds of mints growing on our herb spiral, we are also thinking of creating nice tea mixtures and filling them up in little tea bags.
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We helped a local organization box up food that was collected by our postal workers.
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We help the Yokota Air Base Pet Boarding Facility find homes and rehabilitate the rescued animals found on our Base. We take pictures and post signs. We have made a video to introduce the student body to the Boarding Facility which was aired to the entire school on our school's television news show.
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At P.S. 321, Roots & Shoots took the shape of a once-a-week afterschool club that began in the fall and is finishing this spring. We worked on two projects: 1) Community awareness about the harmful effects of plastic bags. Kids collected facts about plastic bags: what they are made of, how long it takes to break down over time, hazards they present to other animals. They then created small posters to take around to the local merchants and asked them to display them in their store windows or near their cash registers. The posters urged shoppers to bring/use re-usable bags instead of using plastic bags. 2) Kids researched animals that were in danger of extinction. Class selected two animals to try to raise money for: the Mexican grey wolf and the snow leopard. Children made things to sell outside school on a local commercial street and will donate proceeds to the Wildlife Conservation Society (snow leopard) and the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson (Mexican grey wolf).

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