Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Macdonough in the News...

Middletown Students' Environment Project Has International Aspects
by Melissa Pionzio, Hartford Courant

MIDDLETOWN — Huddled in a classroom corner Monday morning, Macdonough School fifth-graders shared posters they have created about the environment and what they can do to protect the Earth.

"Mother Earth provides us with grass and the land," said Leanna See, whose poster depicts a vibrant neighborhood filled with grass, trees, birds and homes. "At home, I have three gardens, one that is just flowers and plants and another that is for fruits and vegetables."

The posters, which the students drew during sessions of their Friday afternoon Green Smarts environmental club hosted by Wesleyan's Green Street Arts Center, are part of a special project they were invited to join called "Dear Mother … Letters to the Earth."

Sponsored by Wesleyan's Center for the Arts, the university's new college of the environment and composer Glenn McClure, the project invites students ages 9 to 12 worldwide to express their thoughts about the environment through letters, pictures, poems and songs. McClure, a faculty member at the Eastman School of Music at the State University of New York, is visiting students in Ghana and will incorporate the students' environment-themed messages in a musical composition. The piece will be performed by Wesleyan students and local middle-schoolers at a concert in Middletown next spring.

The Macdonough fifth-graders have visited the city's Erin Street Community Garden to plant bulbs and help prepare the space for the winter, and they wrote essays and poetry about their work and the environment. Their writings, along with photos of them in action, will be submitted to McClure by the end of the week.

"We fertilized and made the soil better," fifth-grader Tiana Bressler said of her visit to the garden.

"We left rotten food to fertilize the soil," added Dimoni Parrish. "Other states plant trees and flowers and plants, which help provide oxygen and products like cotton."

Through the Green Street Arts Center, the students will take drumming lessons, learn Ghanaian songs and hear from a Wesleyan student about the year she spent in Africa. Such activities are meant to help the students understand how children in other parts of the world live and take care of their environment, said Sarah-Jane Ripa, artistic and education coordinator at the arts center.

A teleconference involving the Macdonough students, McClure and students from Ghana had been planned for Monday, but technical difficulties pushed it to another day. Instead, the students and teacher Stefanie DiBacco spent extra time discussing the environment and how their own actions can make a difference.

"I'm going to put this poster up in my neighborhood," student Maurice Brackett said of a classmate's drawing about littering. "I'm going to tell people: 'Don't litter here.'

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