Our second Day of Service for this school year was centered on trees and we observed it on Arbor Day, of course!
We began the day with Meeting for Community. Afterwards, students in grades K-3 walked over to Senn High School, where some of our students presented poems about trees and the high school students performed for us, as well. We also got to help plant some trees. Our Alderman, Harry Osterman, came to the event! The Senn students were also kind enough to organize some activities for our students, including face-painting and chalk drawing, and CFS’s visit will be featured by the Senn journalism club; it felt like a great opportunity for our kids to connect with some older youth in the neighborhood and come together to help the neighborhood.
We came back to school to learn about the many benefits trees bring to human beings, which were far more extensive than I had realized. Did you know that shopping areas with lots of trees around attract more shoppers, who also stay longer and spend more money? The 3rd and 4th graders have made signs to go up all around the neighborhood about the virtues of trees. Meanwhile, the 5th-7th grade students calculated the economic value of trees to the neighborhood, and tagged trees with a price tag explaining these benefits.
After a community potluck lunch, George Lakey came to speak to the students in grades 2-7. George is a Quaker, retired from teaching at Swarthmore College, who has a long and distinguished history of protest and direct action. He is also a wonderful storyteller, and held the kids enthralled with his tales of protesting to save mountains in West Virginia from strip mining! The children were crying out in astonishment and jumping in to ask questions and guess what had happened next, and he rolled with every exclamation and query.
This day, with action taken in our community, and tales of people who are willing to take risks to protect trees, helps provide many examples for students as they develop their own ideas of how to be in the world.