Celebrating Earth Day

Stephanie Ho, Lower School Science Teacher
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
The 2020-2021 school year has been a tempest of challenges for each individual, family unit, and community. Somehow, here we are. Students, parents, caregivers, faculty, staff--we banded together in hope and resilience. Thanks to the commitment of our health and essential workers in our community, with the rollouts of vaccines and meticulously planned COVID-19 protocols, Chandler School now has all of K-8 back, and guess what? We’re OK. If you could hear the voices of our children on campus, you’d know they’re better than OK now. 
With so much focus on the health, political, and social climates of our society, let us spend this April 22 thinking of the climate of the Earth. 
“An understanding of the natural world and what’s in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment.” —David Attenborough
Kindergarten scientists learn what living things all need to survive. At the basic level, we need food, water, and shelter. But where does it all come from, and how do we get it? As students matriculate through the different grade levels, there is a natural curiosity that shines through in our classes. Questions that used to be collected on post-it notes now fill my chat boxes: “What happens to things that get struck by lightning?” “When I throw this apple away, where does it go?” “How does a dead fish help a plant grow?” “What’s the meaning of life?”
As COVID-19 kept us quarantined at home, the challenges of time, work and energy resulted in a public surge of deliveries and disposables. But there was also a surge in home-gardening, nature-observations, and sharing in tradition and culture--things that we otherwise would have had less time for after commutes and long days away from home. These experiences at home with you fulfill our children’s curiosities in more gratifying ways than you can know.
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together … all things connect.” —Chief Seattle
One of the requirements of returning to school for our LS students was that snacks and lunches needed to be packed from home. In one of his memos to the faculty and staff, John Finch noted: “One of the most striking features of lunchtime last week was the absence of ‘lunch envy.’ Everyone had what they wanted. The absence of waste was noticeable.” 
Something as simple and natural as having your favorite food that maybe your grandmother taught you to make, taking the time to pack it in reusable containers with reusable utensils--our youngest students are learning best sustainable practices already (culturally and ecologically). Although the Sustainability Club and Trash Reduction Committee (students groups in the LS and MS, respectively) haven’t been able to meet to measure them, there’s notable impact and improvement in Chandler’s carbon footprint. 
As Earth Day approaches this Thursday, I invite you to acknowledge and appreciate the pieces of your daily practices--then identify how you and your children take care of each other and this planet. Challenge yourselves to seek alternatives to ways in which you can do better. Does that mean one less Postmates order this week? Or choosing the unwrapped fruit over the pre-wrapped? Start composting in your garden? Whatever that looks like for you, BE PROUD for trying. Every little bit helps to sustain and inspire hope that we can reverse climate change.
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” —Jane Goodall

Earth Day Watchlist

Want to learn more? Here are some recommendations for documentaries and videos that might interest each family. 
Kiss the Ground - Streaming on Netflix (PG--ages 10 and up)
What Really Happens to Plastic You Throw Away - Emma Bryce - Ted Talk - YouTube
UCI Earth Day Page - Scroll down to Events and Activities for exclusive climate action events (Register for live events)
NASA Climate Kids - Webpage for at-home exploration