3rd-graders make the world a better place

Vintage Hills Elementary School teacher gives his class practical experience in observing Earth Day

Vintage Hills Elementary School teacher Adam Randall is giving his class of 25 third-graders practical experience in observing last month's Earth Day.

After learning about the earth's different environments and studying the water crisis in California, Randall's students were determined to make a difference.

They looked all over their school and classroom to see the ways that they were being kind to the earth and where they needed to improve. Randall told them to dream big and he said he would help them achieve whatever end goal that they wanted. They went to work.

Sorted into groups, they tackled different projects, all related to making Vintage Hills (and, by extension, Planet Earth) a better place.

One group called Western Garden Nursery on Vineyard Avenue and asked for, and received, a donation of drought resistant plants to plant in the school's garden as part of a beautification project. Another group called Staples to ask for a donation of whiteboard pens to go along with the homemade whiteboards that they were making for classroom use to reduce paper waste at school. Staples donated them the pens as well.

Another group started a lunchtime recycling program, painting a trash bin to look green and earth friendly, and then collect the recyclables, taking those to a buy-back center and donating the money to the school's PTA. Other groups spread the word about Earth Day, started a school-wide cleanup campaign and, through contributed mulch and plants, landscaped and beautified a well traveled area at the school.

Altogether, Randall's third grade class did some pretty amazing things at Vintage Hills, and they wrote about it:

"When we found out that we got so many donations, we were shocked and amazed. We felt like we could do anything." -- Dylan.

"It felt great to accomplish our goal of making the school prettier. This project is not something that will just last a week, it will continue to help the school for years to come." -- Brooke.

"The Earth Day project was a great experience because realizing that you did something for your school makes you feel really good. Even when we move on from this school, we hope this still goes on because one piece of trash can make a huge difference." -- Lois.

"I was very proud of myself when we finished our project. Our teacher told us to dream big and we did." -- Maddie.

"We were so excited when we finished our project. We felt like we helped the world grow." -- Alex.

"Sometimes the world can get messed up by people so we have to work hard to make it beautiful again." -- Karissa.

"It really meant a lot to me." -- Gus.

"The earth gives so much to me and I wanted to give back. Every day should be Earth Day." -- Jonathan.

"These kids were incredibly motivated and determined in their projects and I am really proud of what they have been able to accomplish," Randall said "They have taken project-based learning to the next level and brought our curriculum to life."

"We are studying persuasive writing in class and they are getting real life applications of its importance by trying to convince businesses to help their cause and spreading awareness about something that is important to them.," he added. "Not only did they take action on a big project, but they learned valuable life skills along the way."

Randall has been teaching for four years and this is his second year teaching third grade. A graduate of UC Santa Barbara, he's an outdoorsman when not in the classroom and feels strongly about conservation and being kind to the earth.

"When the kids see what is really happening in the world and how it affects us all, they become incredibly motivated to get out there and make a difference," Randall said. "In this Earth Day project, they were not only able to identify relevant, real world problems that exist at their school and in their community, but also were able to come up with solutions to problems and put them into action."

"I hope that these lessons stick with them and have long lasting influences on their lives," he added. "I want them to know that they matter and they have the power to make the world a better place."

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