Students, faculty, staff, along with a few volunteers celebrated Earth Day at the Waldorf School of Garden City on Friday, April 24th with events and hands-on activities.
“Working side-by-side,” said Waldorf’s gardening and horticulture teacher Mrs. Jeannine Davis, “we had faculty, students, parents and the staff tending to the School’s grounds and learning some very important Earth Day lessons.”
In the morning, students in grades 1-3 participated in a variety of nature-based activities including planting marigolds in the garden (marigolds are an excellent form of organic pest control) as well as other flowers for honeybees and other pollinators. Representatives from the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center were also in attendance. Students met some of Long Island’s resident wildlife and discovered why it is so important to save natural habitats in their own neighborhoods.
In the afternoon, the entire school community split into small groups to work on the school grounds. Eighteen mixed-age groups – which included students grades 4-12 – built gardening beds; pruned shrubs and trees; and planted new flowers, plants, and shrubs. “When all the tasks were completed, said Mrs. Davis, “everyone gathered in the Cranin Courtyard and enjoyed some delicious granola bars, smoothies and a musical performance from our Earth Day Band singing ‘Upside Down’ by musical artist Jack Johnson. Former school librarian Mr. Bruce Travins also stopped by to educate everyone about the importance of honey bees and how they live.”
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.