What is Bellows Falls Union High school doing to help combat climate change? I am very proud to say they are doing a lot. The student and teachers are working together to help make a change. It all started when four teachers went to a workshop and the big question was “the Earth is speaking – how do we respond?” They changed it to the Earth is speaking – how will Bellows Falls respond?
The teachers – Judy Palmer-Guest (English), Laura Tabachnick (Social Studies), Katy Emond (English), and Anna Macijeski (Art) – with the help of science teacher Mike Norkun – have a lot planned throughout the year, but the big finished product is a gallery walk downtown. They are going to have photos, painting, short stories and maybe some locally grown food. All from Bellows Falls Union High School – students and teachers alike – will work to give the power to, and raise the voices of young people.
A group of students and some teachers have already been to a climate change rally in Brattleboro. I went and it was amazing and eye opening. There was slam poetry from youth, locally grown watermelon, and people just hanging out. Later in October the teachers are going gleaning with their classes. Gleaning is when you collect leftovers in fields after the harvest. This helps the farmers and gives veggies to food shelters. In senior seminar they are bringing in local climate change activists for a panel so students can ask questions about what they are doing to help the environment and learn what students can do. Mrs. Palmer-Guest’s class read selections from Ray Bradbury and did drawings about how technology is impacting our climate. Through this whole endeavor they will be taking pictures of their activities for a book the students will make in Ms. Macijeski’s art class.
Our climate change group is also hard at work to help combat climate change. Although Mr. Norkun is the supervisor of the club, he says that the youth are the ones really running the club. Their main goal is to raise awareness and try to make a difference. Students will join forces with Harley Sterline who manages the school food program to help with composting in the cafeteria. Composting is great for the environment because it will reduce the school’s carbon footprint by reducing energy used to dispose of food waste. Another goal is stopping the school from spraying pesticides on our fields. According to the Toxic Action Center “Pesticides are incredibly harmful to human health. Pesticides have been proven to cause reproductive and developmental effects, cancer, kidney and liver damage, endocrine disruption, etc”.
The group kicked off it’s plans with a rally in the BFUHS auditorium on September 20. The entire school attended the assembly to hear the news and plans for the group and the community. The message was “The Earth is speaking, how do we respond? The teachers and students will now work to uplift the voice of the local youth about this issue, as well as make a difference in our community.