Students and teachers at Dr. Edward L. Whigham Elementary School in Cutler Bay celebrated Earth Day early on Friday, Apr. 17, with some help from the community.
More than 400 students participated in an all-day event called “Birds, Blooms, Butterflies and Bees” as part of International Global Youth Service Days.
“The event was coordinated with help from Whigham students participating in Youth Service America’s Semester of Service as part of a State Farm Good Neighbor Student Achievement Grant,” said Adrian Delesdernier, a third grade science, social studies and WAVE (Whigham Aquatic Visionary Explorers) teacher.
Delesdernier and three other Whigham teachers — Sue Cummings, Dionie DeSilva and Louis Saenz — were recipients of a $2,000 grant for the 2014-15 school year to help promote service learning among 80 students. During their semester of service, students learned how to identify environmental issues and propose solutions that benefit the community.
With learning the importance of protecting and restoring natural habitats the purpose behind the event, students of Sue Cummings fifth grade WAVE group worked on raising mangrove propagules as part of the Mangrove Restoration Project. Other students hoped to improve the school’s butterfly habitat by planting seeds and plants including milkweed, penta, lantana, dill and citrus. Besides wanting to attract butterflies such asthe Monarch Butterfly, Eastern Swallowtail Butterfly and the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, the students hoped that the garden will qualify as a National Wildlife Federation School Yard Habitat.
Second grade students threaded cereal on pieces of string and hung them in the trees, hoping to attract birds to the garden. Still other students collected trash and turned it into an artful mural, hoping to inspire others to keep the planet clean.
Community help came in the form of butterfly plants donated by Home Depot, and mulch donated by the Town of Cutler Bay. Special guests from the town included Alfredo Quintero, director of Public Works; Kristina Perez, and Ted Gibson.
Louis Saenz, a third grade teacher and one of the grant recipients, was pleased with the way the Earth Day activities turned out. “This event was a great way to show students that if each person makes a small contribution, we can have a great impact on improving our environment,” Saenz said.
Alejandro Garcia, a third grade Semester of Service student, wanted the participants to know about the importance of the event and of protecting the environment.
“We have to stop using pesticides and we have to plant more plants,” he told them.