What Earth Day Means for our Students and the Environment – Holly Orian



“Invest in our Planet” is the theme for this year’s Earth Day. As an educator, I can’t think of a better way to invest in our planet than to provide students with the opportunities to interact with and learn from the world around them.  


At WMAES, you can find our students immersed in earth education every day. There are a lot of sayings for the type of education we are giving students at WMAES; some people call it hands-on, place-based, environmental education, and more. Whatever you call it, it provides students with real-world experiences that allow them to use their creativity, make connections to the world around them, use and enhance their critical thinking skills, promote tolerance of differing points of view and ideas all the while meeting state learning standards.   


We have had many Earth Day Specific activities, and the favorite is always tree planting. WMAES students and staff have planted over 5,000 trees on our 62-acre campus in the past 18 years. This tradition lives on each year as older students mentor our younger ones on how to plant trees. As a school community, we have turned open, weedy areas into new pine forests and have started our own Christmas tree field that will be ready for its first harvest in about 9 years.  The trees provide our students with new learning spaces and new ecosystems for the animals.  We have students who have watched their tree grow alongside them as they go from kindergarten to seniors.  Over the years we have planted more than just trees during our Earth Week celebrations, we have planted seeds of appreciation, respect and love for our environment. What a great investment!  


Check out some photos from over the years of WMAES students planting trees and learning in our pine forest.   

WMAES Students playing in the snow together. Four WMAES students standing in the yard with yard tools. 2 Young students tending to a pine sapling. Young WMAES students holding up charts with animals. students assessing the soil and plants. students pose for the camera while young male shovels soil.