By Celis Brisbin, Programs Manager
Thanks to a mini grant from MassSave, Boston Nature Center educator, Kim Baker, was able to convene all 400 students and many parents of the Dennis Haley School for their annual Green Apple outdoor classroom Green-Up Day.
The school is now a fully enrolled kindergarten through eighth grade school and to accommodate the expanded student body, a large building expansion project was completed last year, taking up half of the school’s formerly spacious schoolyard. While everyone is excited about the classroom space, it was hard to lose much of the outdoor play space. In order to celebrate Green Apple Day, we wanted to find a way to involve the entire community in helping green-up the school yard.
This year we focused on small group clean up and gardening. The students in grades 6-8 took on leadership roles by overseeing their younger peers during the Green-Up event. Many of the garden beds needed to be replanted and the older students had learned how to do this in prior years. They supported the younger students in this process and helped them create a beautiful front area for the school. The fourth and fifth grade students worked together to compost a new garden bed in the back of the school and also used binoculars to observe the birds that utilize this more remote part of the schoolyard.
Parents were so excited to participate in the day, one example of this is how that they helped clear low hanging branches that had been hindering safe access to one of the sidewalks where many families walk and bike to school. Although it was a busy work day, we did make sure to have a lot of fun engaging in different science activities. Students explored the homes that animals had made under logs and learned about the size, shape and color of the fall leaves. In addition, our older students were exposed to information about how to save energy in their own homes and had discussions about how they could “Green-up” at home. Overall it was a wonderful day and as a community we all came together to celebrate the greening of our school and bring recognition to “where we learn matters.”