Students, faculty, staff, along with a few parent volunteers celebrated Earth Day at the Waldorf School of Garden City on Friday, April 19th with events and hands-on activities.
"Working side-by-side," said Waldorf’s gardening and horticulture teacher Jeannine Davis, "we had workers of all ages spend the day tending to the School’s grounds and learning some very important Earth Day lessons."
In the morning, students in grades 1-3 planted marigolds in the garden. (Marigolds are an excellent form of organic pest control.) They also listened to a story about spring from the School's librarian, Ms. Elizabeth Cohen, a story (in French) about the Earth from Madame Kadri, and participated in some fun Earth-day games with Ms. Bonnie Bolz, Waldorf's physical education and movement teacher. Afterwards, the children learned about bees from a local beekeeper and tasted some organic honey.
In the afternoon, the entire school community split into small groups to work on the school grounds. Over fifteen mixed-age groups – which included students grades 4-12 – built gardening beds; pruned shrubs and trees; planted new flowers, plants, and shrubs; and even learned how to make Earth-friendly “green cleaners” for each classroom. “When all the tasks were completed, said Mrs. Davis, “everyone gathered in the Cranin Courtyard and enjoyed some delicious granola bars and lemonade.” Lending to the occasion's festive mood, Waldorf's high school jazz band played “Blackbird" by Paul McCartney from the Beatles 1968 album "The White Album".
Since the School’s beginnings in 1947, gardening and the environment have been an integral part of the Waldorf curriculum. Former Waldorf teacher Marjorie Spock brought the county and state to trial for spraying DDT on her garden. Her persistence caught the eye of many journalists including Rachel Carson whose subsequent book Silent Spring (Houghton Mifflin, 1962) played a significant role in the environmental movement and the creation of Earth Day.
In addition to Waldorf’s 10-acre campus in Garden City, the Waldorf School operates Camp Glen Brook which consists of 240 acres of farmland and forests in southwestern New Hampshire. For the students, the entire gardening process awakens their senses and encourages an awareness and appreciation of the trans-formative values of nourishment, community, and stewardship of the land.