For Walsingham Academy students, their enthusiasm for the planet is contagious.
Themes of cultivation and sustainability are present, from greenhouses housing vegetables grown by first- and four-year-olds to student-constructed raised beds where children are learning how to plant lasagna. Not only on campus, but also on the curriculum.
“Being not just a lone entity on the planet, but being an environmental steward is like going back to our core values,” says Walsingham, who teaches pre-kindergarten students science through seventh grade. Kim Ward, who teaches, said. “We are not alone. We must help each other and work together.”
Walsingham, a private pre-kindergarten through 12th grade school, recently received its fourth Virginia Naturally Award for its dedication to environmental stewardship. This recognizes the efforts of Virginia schools to increase environmental awareness and strengthen student control.
Last year, student Mikey Bahee was so impressed with his 4th grade plant and photosynthesis class that he went home to create his own garden full of cucumbers, pumpkins, beans, carrots and more.
“[I]was inspired just by learning about plants,” he said. “How plants work, such as stems, photosynthesis, roots, how they collect nutrients from the soil, how they disperse their seeds, etc.”
In the plants unit, Walsingham seniors are also working on a milkweed project. The project will germinate more than 500 milkweed seeds and, once the plants are grown, distribute them at the Williamsburg Farmers’ Market in Her Square to promote savings efforts. A population of monarch butterflies.
Vahey, Kourtney Taylor, and Nadia Clark are among the students who grew milkweed last year with the help of William & Mary Associate Professor Joshua Puzey. During this project, students followed the path to the William & Mary campus, visited the school’s greenhouse, and helped tend hundreds of milkweeds.
Milkweed also grows on campus in an oval ring garden designed by Walsingham Year 7 students during their STEM classes, but it is the only host plant for the monarch butterfly, which lays its eggs on the milkweed and caterpillars feed on the leaves. be available.
“It’s the only thing monarch butterflies eat,” Taylor said. “And[monarch butterflies]were extinct, which is really sad.”
Much of the school’s curriculum is tied to compassion and service, including in the area of environmental protection.
As an organization founded by the Sisters of Mercy, Walsingham is led by five key concerns: planet, immigration, non-violence, racism and women.
According to the Sisters of Mercy website, “We focus on the poverty of our people, the devastation of our planet, and the oppressive social systems of our (important concerns) and the interrelationships between them. is supported.” is written. “We demonstrate our commitment to these concerns through personal transformation, community choice, educational outreach, legislative advocacy, corporate engagement, and spiritual practice.”
From the youngest Walsingham students to the oldest who help plant and eat vegetables in the school garden, everyone participates in the school’s annual activities.
Junior Bryce McHose is another example of how Walsingham students inspire and influence.
In February 2020, McHose helped launch the Williamsburg Area Thirst Project, an arm of the nonprofit Thirst Project, and visited McHose’s geography class to encourage 11th graders to participate.
The organization’s mission is to build freshwater wells in developing regions that need safe drinking water. To date, over 3,000 water projects in 13 countries have been built or funded by the Thirst Project.
Over two years, McHose and his team have raised more than half of the $12,000 needed to build the first well in Eswatini, Africa.
McHose received a lot of help from Walsingham during the fundraising process. School administrators gave him permission to host a car wash on campus, raising over $1,000. Since then, he’s done more car washes and held walksons and bracelet sales.
Like juniors, high school students also get the opportunity to plant plants as part of their studies.
In an AP Human Geography class, teacher Laura Broderick tells students “about how humans interact with the environment. One of the ways, of course, is through environmental sustainability.” is.”
Part of the class includes planting and maintaining crops in greenhouses and discusses how difficult it is for people around the world who rely on sustainable agriculture to actually produce their own food. I will try to explain,” said Broderick.
“Some have had success,” added McHose. “Not much else”
During the course of this project, the students “learned a valuable lesson” about how much time and attention crops require.
“If no one is watering the crops during the week and a half of spring break, the crops tend to die,” Broderick continued. “What they learned was a very good lesson. Dependent people really need to adjust and can’t go on a week and a half spring break. to be understood by
Ward’s hope is that her students will have the tools to become “better citizens and humans of the planet.”
“I know they’re not alone,” she said. “Think outside yourself. It’s part of our core value system that stands out across all grades and all subjects.”
Sian Wilkerson, email@example.com, 757-342-6616