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Earth Day 2016, at Duniway Elementary School

DAVID F. ASHTON - Duniway student Charlie supplies the pedal power, to help his mom - Wendy Foster - make smoothies in a bike-mounted blender. Students and parents at Duniway Elementary School on S.E. Reed College Place in Eastmoreland celebrated Earth Day with a number of activities, on the afternoon of Friday, April 22nd.

A threat of rain caused the school to move most of the activities into the Duniway gymnasium, which was ringed with displays and crafts.

A parent of both a Duniway second-grader and a fifth-grader, Nicole Murray, was one of the organizers of their celebration.

“This year our theme is ‘Changing Climates, Changing Actions’,” Murray said. “As in past years, community members to come and talk to the students about different environmental issues that are relevant for our neighborhood, and for the planet as a whole.”

Dana Visse, another parent of two Duniway students – a preschooler and a third-grader – described some of the activities.

“We have a bicycle-powered smoothie-maker at one station. And students can make a pledge to the earth, and put it up on a tree,” Visse said.

She pointed out the booth set up by “Save Our Local Trees” representatives, which included a craft table where kids were making key fobs from recyclable materials.

“We’re also showing what our ‘Green Team’ accomplishes in school every day – recycling milk cartons, composting food scraps, and recycling,” Visse remarked. “We are one of the 24, out of 86, Portland Public Schools that composts, and one of only four that recycles milk cartons and that recycles plastics.”

Two former Duniway students – Charlie and Jeremy, who created the “Two Green Leaves” website –came back to the school for the afternoon, Visse added. “They are adept at explaining climate change in a way kids understand, so they learn what choices they can make.”

The fourth and fifth grade leadership team sponsored booths featuring seed planting, and creating fairy houses from recycled materials.

“What impresses me most is that our Earth Day event has grown from our kids out through to the parents,” smiled Duniway School Principal Matt Goldstein. “This gives our students an opportunity to be part of something that happens outside the school classroom – something positive for the environment.”