Memorial School Grounds Get Ecological Makeover [Photo Gallery]
Seventh and eighth graders at Memorial Middle School spent Friday afternoon contributing to the ecological health of their school environment
In what teachers hope becomes an annual event, seventh and eighth grade students at Memorial Middle School took part in an all-encompassing environmental citizenship initiative Friday afternoon on school grounds.
The event was tied in with this year’s bi-annual river cleanup visit from the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, which nine years ago partnered with Memorial to construct the school’s river walk and helps maintain it to this day.
For the past eight years, PVSC has worked with the school to conduct a Passaic River cleanup event on two Saturdays each year.
“This is one of the stronger partnerships that PVSC has, and it gets stronger every year,” said PVSC public affairs director Tom Pietrykoski, noting that the Memorial cleanup is one of over 70 cleanup events the commission performs each year.
Emil DeLuccia, a Fair Lawn resident/volunteer who has been instrumental in the construction and maintenance of the river walk and the bi-annual PVSC cleanups said the school has really embraced the project.
“It’s really grown since we started this,” said DeLuccia, who began working with Memorial when his now college-age daughter attended the school. “The kids didn’t even know the river was here when we started this.”
To increase participation this year, the event—which normally draws 30 to 40 kids -- was held on a Friday and tied in with the school’s afternoon of environmental stewardship.
After lunch on Friday, students ventured outside and rotated through a variety of eco-activities on the school’s grounds that included not only cleanup on the river bank, but also composting at the school's Eco-Village, preparing multiple garden plots around the school building and an art project inside the school about Monarch butterfly migration.
“Every kid in the school is going to have the opportunity to give back to their school, to learn about the ways that we can reduce solid waste, to help the river that flows right past us…and then to add back to the school garden,” said Craig Cohen, a science teacher at Memorial who heads the school’s environmental club. “We’re trying to build global citizenship.”
Cohen said his students were excited and engaged to get outside and assist with beautifying their school environment.
“The kids are really getting into it,” said Cohen, who hopes the student’s enthusiasm translates into more of them joining Memorial’s Environmental Club. “They don’t want to come out of the woods. Like, can we do this more? I told them, join the club.”
Sixth graders will take their turn with the outdoor environmental stewardship rotation next Friday.