Students, faculty and administrators of Dr. E. L. Whigham Elementary School observed Earth Day on Apr. 30 with a large scale project and a special guest known to many area television viewers.
“Earth Day was celebrated in a big way at Whigham this year,” said Marilyn Horne, fourth grade teacher. “We were the recipients of a grant from Fairchild Gardens and built a large vegetable garden. We joined in a school-wide effort to plant a large butterfly garden.
“Plants, trees, mulch, and soil were donated from teachers, residents, and parents. Marty and Peggy Bell donated a Japanese fern tree and a Colusa rose tree which were also planted.”
Horne said that as educators, getting students interested in preserving and caring for the earth is a huge priority at the school, and that they want to “encourage and energize children to be aware of how fragile and beautiful the world we live in is.” They were joined by Trent Aric, meteorologist from Channel 10 News, who also is a Cutler Bay resident, to open the ceremony.
Susan Cummings, fifth grade science coach and Science Department chair at the school, couldn’t have been happier with the visit, even though the weather, ironically, was threatening.
“We were so excited to hear that Mr. Trent Aric was going to speak at our Earth Day ceremony,” Cummings said. “As the entire student body gathered outside for the event, the wind and rain began to blow. Of course, all fingers were pointed to Mr. Aric as we managed to relocate all students into the cafeteria for a wonderful ceremony.
“Afterwards, the students jumped between raindrops to plant avocado trees along the back of the school and a butterfly garden by the PE court. Without our strong staff and parental support, this event would not have been as successful.”
Priscilla Cowart, the fifth grade inclusion teacher at Whigham, reflected on the way the meteorologist’s participation in the event came about.
“Susan Cummings and I met Mr. Aric while working out at Crossfit React,” Cowart said. “After finding out Mr. Aric lives within the Cutler Bay community, we extended an invitation to him asking if he could be our opening speaker at our Earth Day ceremony.
“Mr. Aric was not only extremely approachable, but he proved to be as reliable and professional as they come. As he addressed the student body about weather, recycling and his job, he actively engaged all age groups. It definitely was a treat and an honor for us!”