Elizabeth Davis Middle School’s students and teachers took a break from their usual end-of-the-year activities to devote a day to exploring and celebrating their connection to the Chesapeake Bay.
The school held its first Bay Day celebration on Friday, June 11. Teachers hope the event, which includes a variety of activities and guest speakers, will become an annual happening.
“We want to be a green school,” sixth grade science teacher Judy Hall said. “We also study the Chesapeake Bay in sixth grade. … We came up with this idea to do this school-wide celebration of our relationship to the bay.”
Being green isn’t just about trash and recycling. “It’s so much more than that,” she said. It’s choices people make, like whether to drive somewhere or carpool with others, she said.
The teachers started talking about the event last year, and started planning for it in November, Hall said.
“I find it very exciting,” she said. “It’s the coolest thing I think I’ve ever done in 23 years of teaching.”
Each grade had a different theme for Bay Day. The eighth graders explored energy in and through the bay, while the seventh graders investigated biomes and sixth graders learned about water. Each grade also had a special T-shirt, and each group of students had a group name and banner.
Among the day’s events were tree planting, soil demonstrations, tide cycle investigation and water testing. The event also included guest speakers from Chesterfield County, the MathScience Innovation Center, the Virginia Department of Forestry, the Virginia Department of Fame and Inland Fisheries, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S Department of Agriculture and TFC Recycling, according to information from Hall.
Toby Spalding, an eighth grade science teacher, said helping students understand the relevance of the bay is important.
“It’s sort of having the students grip the reality that every decision they make every day … is going to ultimately affect generations to come,” he said. Many of the students have never been to the bay, and don’t know what a treasured natural resource it is.
If the students can walk away from Bay Day with a renewed connection to the bay and greater knowledge of it, “hopefully the next step for them is bring mindful and trying to conserve,” he said.
“It’s a big event, and eventually we want to get to the point where we have the students engaged at the bay,” Spalding said. The goal is for the students to see that “the only people that have the power to stop what’s hurting the bay is them,” he said.
And the students are receptive to the message, he said. Everything now is leaning to that step toward the healthy, toward the green.
“Green is only the beginning here, as far as where we want to go with it,” he said.
Jeremy Lloyd, the science instructional specialist with Chesterfield County Public Schools, said Bay Day was a very impressive event. Lloyd was working with groups of students on the creek bank during the event, leading students in part of the water test.
“The earlier they know, the earlier they will start to do just little things,” Lloyd said. “If they start doing those, they’ll have a huge difference.”