Caring for the environment and living sustainably are inherent in life and learning at Manhattan Country School. However, in the days leading up to Earth Day (April 22), several classes engaged in additional activities in recognition of the annual observance.
Lower School Letter Writing
The 6-7s' Wings Postal Service organized a postcard and letter writing campaign for the children in the school. The 4-5s, 5-6s, 6-7s, 8-9s and 9-10s wrote cards and letters to the president explaining how much they care about the environment and asking him to take care of the Earth. With the help of the advancement and admissions teams, pre-addressed postcards were created on which a message could be written on one side and artwork drawn on the other. Some of the messages included “Don’t pick flowers while they are still growing,” “Keep beaches clean” and “Don’t kill too many animals because then nobody will be able to discover them.” The effort was part of a larger campaign by an organization called Kids 4 Planet Earth, which set a goal of having a million letters sent to the White House on or before Earth Day.
Upper School Activism
At Friday’s Upper School assembly, students in the activism elective led a workshop on fossil fuel divestment. It is a topic that is being addressed as part of the seventh- and eighth-grade activism project, "Divest from Corporate Greed, Invest in the Future We Need." The students discussed the meaning of terms such as climate change, fossil fuels, renewable energy and divestment, and showed a video about the importance of fossil fuel divestment.
Nassim Zerriffi, MCS’ activism coordinator, explained that the fossil fuel divestment movement began with college students and that, to date, $5.45 trillion has been divested. Upper School Director Maiya Jackson shared that the company that manages MCS’ funds makes sure that the companies in which it invests are socially responsible.
Students then broke into four groups to discuss the connection between fossil fuels and one of the following four topics: government influence, the conflict over natural resources, health and climate change. They were then tasked with creating signs that expressed why they want New York City to divest from fossil fuels and invest in a different future.
At the end of the assembly, students were given a list of 10 things they could do to help the environment:
- Call Mayor de Blasio to ask him to divest New York City funds from the Dakota Access Pipeline and all fossil fuels and to thank him for supporting the environmental justice bills that just passed City Council.
- Go vegetarian for one day or have a vegetarian meal once a day for five days.
- Bring a water bottle and don't buy plastic bottles.
- Join the thrift shop movement.
- Walk, ride a bike or board, or use public transportation.
- Participate in a protest or action around climate change.
- Call your state senator and ask him or her to support bill A6279, related to the right to clean air and water and a healthful environment.
- Ask your congressperson to fight the defunding of the EPA and State Department, stand up against the oil industry and support investments in renewable energy and the Paris Agreement.
- Use social media to share facts and articles about climate change or to tweet at your elected officials to ask them to support a rapid transition to renewable energy.
The students were asked to commit to doing at least one of the 10 activities. They wrote their chosen activity on a piece of paper that would become part of a collage of everyone's responses that would be turned into a sign for next week's NYC March for Climate, Jobs and Justice.
The seventh- and eighth-graders invite the MCS community to join them for the Saturday, April 29 march. They will be gathering at 11:30 a.m at Father Demo Square at the intersection of Sixth Avenue, Carmine Street and Bleecker Street. The group will walk to the Washington Square Arch together to join the march, which starts at noon.