Lions Oval elementary student says: “Hug a tree!”
Students at Lions Oval Public School in Orillia have been excitedly noticing the change of seasons and thinking ahead to Earth Day, coming up on April 22.
Earth Day is an annual event held on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First held on April 22, 1970, it now includes a wide range of events coordinated globally by EARTHDAY.ORG—including 1 billion people in more than 193 countries. The 2021 theme for the day is “Restore the Earth.”
Cathy Bernatavicius, a teacher at Lions Oval Public School has given Sustainable Orillia’s Communications Committee a glimpse into the activities taking place at her school. In Primary classrooms teachers have been discussing different environmental focuses.
In Grade 1 Science, students have been learning about “Energy.” In addition to learning about traditional energy sources that power our daily lives, there has been discussion of future sources of clean energy. Students have designed cars that run on solar energy and wind. “If the Mars Rover uses solar energy [which it does], maybe cars of the future can, too,” said one student, while another budding engineer noted, “My vehicle uses wind energy – the wind pushes on the turbine and makes it move.” Students are aware that these energy sources are renewable and have less impact on the environment than the fossil fuels we currently use.
Elodie Clark’s Grade 1 class also discussed the importance of looking after our water resources and created some amazing posters on display in the school (a couple of which are reproduced in this article). Students again show how aware they are of steps we all need to take to avoid wasting fresh water: “Make sure your washing machine is full before you run it.” “Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth.” “Use a rain barrel to water your plants.”
In Grade 2 and 3 students discussed the importance of trees and natural spaces. Again, student comments reveal their knowledge of what trees do for other living things. “Trees give us oxygen, food and shelter for the animals.” “Trees are important because they give us shade.” Other comments reveal an appreciation of the role trees can play in mitigating the impact of climate change: “Plant more trees.” “Tree roots hold water and stop flooding.” “In the future I want the world to have more trees for animals, less littering and no garbage. I want people to always recycle, reuse and reduce waste.”
And there is obviously a personal connection with trees for many young people: “Hug trees – they are important because they give us air.” “I want to save the earth and keep it how it is because it is really beautiful.” All of us could benefit from a good hug—as could our trees.
As the weather becomes warmer, students are enjoying outdoor activities and are more engaged with nature. Science teacher Cathy Bernatavicius notes that students are loving seeing and discussing signs of spring as birds begin returning and insects start to appear. Even Kindergarten students are on alert for birds and noticing emerging insects. Later in April, Kindergarten to Grade 3 students will have the opportunity to observe the life cycle of butterflies by raising and releasing painted lady butterflies.
Clearly, students at Lions Oval—and other area elementary schools—are aware of the beauty and wonder of the natural world, and, with each observation and question, a new sense of wonder and awareness awakens. Isn’t it time for all of us to share this sense of the wonder and significance of the world we are part of?
April 22, 2021 is a new opportunity to consider the importance of making every day of the year Earth Day. Let the Lions Oval students be examples to us all. Let all of us work to “Restore the Earth.”
(With thanks to Lions Oval teacher Cathy Bernatavicius, her students, and the many students of Lions Oval school who contributed their wonderful comments and artwork to this article.)