Boise students celebrate Earth Day at Hawthorne

Fourth-grader Phoenix McCoubrey knew exactly why her teachers and classmates at Hawthorne Elementary were so excited about celebrating Earth Day on Wednesday.

“Earth Day is pretty much trying to save the Earth from pollution and animals dying because of pollution in the air and water,” Phoenix said.

The Boise fourth-grader and about 250 students and family members participated in the school’s second annual educational celebration of the environment. And they did so in style, with the help of a menagerie of ducks, chicken, caterpillars, trout and worms.

Parent Amy Pence-Brown, Hawthorne’s school garden coordinator, helped organize the celebration, which sprawled throughout classrooms, the gymnasium and a makeshift duck pond and chicken coop staged on the front lawn. She worked with a team of students, the building principal, parent volunteers and community organizations.

Hawthorne has already received a grant for picnic shelter and has funding for a walking path on the way. Pence-Brown and other volunteers were interested in planting seeds Wednesday – both literally in the soil and inside of the young minds of the schools students’.

“It’s to get them to think outside of the classroom and outside the walls of their school to teach them to be a little more community-minded,” Pence-Brown said. “Even as little guys, they can have a big impact on the Earth.”

Those seeds were already sowed in the mind of eighth-grader Benjamin Lopez, a Hawthorne alum who attends online K-12 Academy and visited siblings during Earth Day. Benjamin smiled as he held a chicken and spoke about his love for animals.

“If we don’t take care of the Earth, we won’t always have what we do now,” Benjamin said.

Throughout the afternoon, students showed off projects dedicated to planting seeds, studying the life cycles of fish and insects and the environment. Some of them, as young as 8, peppered their presentations with vocabulary words such as “germinate,” “chrysalis” and “alevin,” the term for a newly hatched trout.

“If we learn how to recycle and all that starting as kids (we’ll) get used to it,” Phoenix said.