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Superheroes are teaching second graders about practical ways to go green this year during CHESPAX field trips to Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center.
“We didn’t want to give [the students] the typical classroom experience,” Jaimie Jeffrey, curator of public programs at Annmarie Garden and superhero Lady Rotsalot, said. “When you bring a little drama or costumes, it always engages the kids more.”
CHESPAX is an environmental education program for Calvert County Public Schools. This is the second year the program has partnered with Annmarie Garden in Solomons.
According to an Annmarie Garden news release, about 40 second grade classes from across Calvert County will visit Annmarie Garden each weekday through March 8 to explore alternatives of waste disposal, primarily focusing on composting and creative reuse as alternative ways to reduce, reuse and recycle.
The superheroes — including Commander Green, Zero Waster, Lady Rotsalot, Joan of Art, Daughter Nature, Wizard of Waste, Princess Poptop, re-USE-It-Tron and Wonder Worman — will teach students practical ways to “go green” and encourage them to implement specific practices into their daily lives, the release said.
Jeffrey explained that each teacher was in charge of developing their own character and creating their own costume.
“It makes it really exciting for the kids,” Tom Harton, lead teacher with CHESPAX, said. “I think it’s perfect for that age group.”
The program ties into the second grade natural resources unit, Harton said. “They get to see how things they use connect back to the environment.”
Students participate in a compost relay, the release said, to learn how to create their own compost pile. Also during their trip to Annmarie Garden, the 1,200 second graders will experience artLAB, a creative center where the students will use their imagination to find ways to resourcefully reuse their own lunch to create unique or functional artwork.
Jeffrey said the students also have the opportunity to see instant “going green” results after lunch. She explained that the students take trash from their lunch, pick out recyclable items and use some for compost and other parts and pieces for their artLAB project, and in the end, their “footprint” is reduced.
The plan is to eventually open the program up to other county public school systems, Jeffrey said.
“It seems to be a wildly successful program,” Jeffrey said.
Harton said the “neatest” part of the program occurs when the students get back to their classroom and are given a blank, reusable grocery bag. The students decorate the bags by incorporating messages about recycling and art practices they learned at Annmarie Garden.
The bags will then be distributed to Roland’s of Chesapeake Station in Chesapeake Beach, Bowen’s Grocery in Huntingtown, Nick’s of Calvert in Prince Frederick and Buehler’s Market in St. Leonard to be given to customers on Earth Day, April 22.
Harton explained the funding for the program, transportation and reusable bags comes from an education grant from Dominion Energy.
“It’s all supported through grants,” he said, adding that none of the program’s funding comes from the CCPS budget.