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Hillside's Earth Week Celebration Teaches Students to Protect Our Planet

 Kids in auditorium at assemblyTo celebrate Earth Day, students at Hillside Elementary School are participating in a week of activities to learn ways to improve and protect the planet. 

To kick things off, on Monday, scores of students filed into the big gym for a school-wide assembly facilitated by fourth grade teacher Amanda Peisel. A presentation from the Student Council engaged the packed audience with funny, educational skits about reducing, reusing, and recycling. Afterwards, a game of Earth Day Trivia put the crowd to the test. 

“What can we do to reuse items to help the environment?” Peisel asked students. 

Hands darted up in excitement, as Student Council members, microphones in hand, meandered their way around the gym choosing on those eager to share their responses. 

“Instead of plastic water bottles, we can bring a reusable water bottle to school,” one student answered. 

“We sure can!” said Peisel. 

Weekday Chart Concluding the presentation, the Student Council shared the week’s schedule of spirit days.

For today's activity, with help from volunteers from the Hastings-on-Hudson Conservation Commission, the Zero Waste Advisory Task Force and Hudson Compost Solutions, students learned about composting during their lunch periods.

Conservation Commission and Zero Waste Advisory Task Force member Aarthi Muthukrishnan shared the results of the day's collaborative effort, including key takeaways:

  • We diverted 102 lbs (i.e., 76% of the total waste during lunch hour) away from landfills and polluting incinerators. If we assume that is the norm for any given school day and there are 80 school days in a year, that amounts to potentially 18,360 lbs of waste that can be diverted away from landfills and incinerators.
  • We were very impressed by Hillside students and their eagerness to listen and learn.
  • The lunch trays are made of cardboard, and are therefore, compostable. This made the process of separation much easier.
  • If we can find ways to replace the plastic utensils and straws to compostable alternatives, we will be able to go further in simplifying the separation processThank you to all the volunteers who made the event a success!

In the future, organizers will develop a list of recommendations for "Composting Fridays", a new program at Hillside, that will allow students and staff to take a step further in their mission to help the environment.

Watch a short clip of students learning about composting: