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Summer, Sailors and Sustainability

Many of us headed outdoors this summer to enjoy nature, whether it was visiting a beach, hiking in the woods, or strolling through a park. Wanting to do their part to ensure that nature’s beauty and resources exist for the long run, a group of Blue Mountain Middle School students spent two weeks of their summer vacation at the school’s first-ever Sustainability Boot Camp.

According to BMMS Assistant Principal Anecia Bell-Jefferson, the program was a great way for students to engage academically over the summer and reconnect prior to school reopening fully in person this fall.

The program focused on three areas: composting, eco-entrepreneurship (upcycling), and marketing/communications. After a few days of learning what sustainability means, the students were divided into the three groups to pursue deeper knowledge of the subjects.

On any given day, students could be found creating decorative and useful items, such as wall art and candles made from discarded products like toilet paper rolls and milk cartons. Other students constructed 3-D displays of landfills and composting systems, while a third group worked on video presentations about sustainability, which they hope to share during lunch periods at the school.

Oona, one of the students working on an upcycling project, said, “I am interested in using materials that would otherwise be in a landfill and making something useful out of them.”

Ava K. and Ocaira were collaborating on a presentation on sustainability for fellow students.  “The message has to be easy to understand,” said Ocaira. “We are using bullet points to help make it clear.”

The students also built a composting bin, which will be located near the Memorial Garden, providing compost for the garden. The location is also close enough for students to help transfer food scraps from the cafeteria.

Teachers Amy Deegan, Danielle Sugarman and Kelly McGillicuddy organized and oversaw the camp and hope it will serve as a springboard for a year-round club at the school.

“In this last year and a half of being so disconnected, it was important to us to help provide an opportunity for everyone to connect,” said Sugarman. “I was glad to see kids trying new things and stepping out of their comfort zones, whether it was in design, construction, art, marketing, or engaging with environmental science. I hope they walk away inspired to make more environmentally conscious decisions and inspire others to do so, too.”

On the final day of camp, the students invited their families to a “walk through” display of their work. Visitors could play a game to learn about the proper disposal of items, purchase upcycled products, and learn about how to live a more sustainable life. A few students circulated among the crowd and gathered names of those who agreed to try composting at home or who wanted to receive more information about sustainability.

“It’s important to take care of your environment, because if you don’t, it might not be here,” said Lexi, one of the students asking attendees to make a commitment to compost.

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