Friday, July 18, 2008

Local Students Help a Kentucky School “Go Green”

Ten Upper School Berwick Academy students and two faculty members recently took a week out of their summer to travel to Louisville, Kentucky to participate in an environmental summer camp with students from Lassiter Middle School. The purpose of the trip was to assist Lassiter’s students in improving their outdoor classroom, which includes a man-made pond, a compost pile, several gardens, and a greenhouse.           
With the completion of the outdoor classroom, Lassiter will be able to market itself as a school specializing in environmental education. The importance of this is immense, because with this new status, the school will be eligible for funding through the school district for better programs for their students, something they would otherwise be unlikely to receive.
Berwick’s involvement with Lassiter began last year when Berwick alum and 6th grade Lassiter teacher Rachel Davis ‘02, reached out to Berwick to “Please please please help my kids.” Heartbreaking stories of poverty-stricken and disability-laden students prompted upper school faculty member, Dana Clinton, to get Berwick students involved. Rachel’s initial request of a donation for her students turned into a year-long buddy program that included exchanging letters and postcards and four care packages sent from Berwick to Lassiter.
The program went so well that a handful of Berwick students, including Emil Cashin (Acton, ME), Hannah Coon (Dover, NH), Mike Grenier (Stratham, NH), Olivia Hutton (Madbury, NH), Derek Lavigne (Saco, ME), Mike MacVane (Hampton Falls, NH), Clara Penati (Newmarket, NH), Meg Platt (South Berwick, ME), Emma Siegel (York, ME), and John Tackeff (Rye Beach, NH) felt compelled to visit the school and help the children even further.
During their time in Louisville, Berwick students worked side-by-side with Lassiter 6th graders on several environmental projects, including gardening, building the pond, clearing out space for the compost pile, and organizing work sheds.
Recent Berwick graduate, Meg Platt of South Berwick, reflected on the trip, “The Lassiter students come from a variety of backgrounds and have different experiences because they’ve grown up in a different part of the country. We’ve learned a lot from each other.”
The buddy program will continue next year.
Caption: Meg Platt (South Berwick, ME) and Emil Cashin (Acton, ME) work alongside a Louisville, KY student to build a raised garden for the Lassiter Middle School outdoor classroom. (Courtesy photo)