Students, faculty, staff, along with a few volunteers celebrated Earth Day at the Waldorf School of Garden City on Friday, April 25th 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 participated in a variety of nature-based activities including planting marigolds in the garden. (Marigolds are an excellent form of organic pest control.) Students also made seeded mud balls.
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.” Representatives from the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center were also on-hand to talk about the wide variety of habitats, from forests to beaches to grasslands, that Long island has to offer. Students met some of Long Island’s resident wildlife and discovered why it is so important to save natural habitats in their own neighborhoods. Lending to the occasion’s festive mood, Waldorf’s after-school dance/performance club performed for everyone.
Many of the trees felled by Superstorm Sandy were planted including two new trees on the front mall. “We would like to gratefully acknowledge a gift from alumna Barbara (Davenport) McCool ’64 which helped support the effort to replant our campus over the past year,” said Ms. Marjorie P. Jean-Paul, Waldorf’s Director of Development.
Remarked Ms. McCool, “I felt a calling to help the School and the beautiful campus that was my first home away from home. I believe it is important to preserve the beauty of our School and that alumni and friends should help when we can.”
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.