First Grade Classes Pitch Campus Community Solutions

First grade students want to make Barstow an even better place to learn. While learning about community helpers, they discussed ways to improve campus and enthusiastically presented their solutions to a group of school leaders on Tuesday, Nov. 23. 
Ms, Gilgus, Ms. Thompson and Ms. Schulte asked students to identify areas at Barstow that needed improvement. 

Cleaning Up Together
Because classes are eating outdoors more frequently this year, students in Ms. Gilgus's class noticed food and trash being left on the ground after snack breaks and lunch periods. The food waste, students said, attracted bees and birds, is bad for the environment and made those spaces look messy.

"What's the deal?" one student wondered during their presentation. "We can win all kinds of awards at Barstow, but we can't pick up trash?" The class made posters reminding their peers to pick up after themselves. Then students embarked on a trash count for a few weeks. One week, they picked up a few hundred pieces of trash. Last Friday, they picked up only 20 pieces. "That's so exciting," one student said about the results. "If we work together, we can do it!"

Reducing Food Waste
Ms. Schulte's class also tackled a food-related issue. They noticed that that food during snack time and lunch was being wasted. During their presentation, they told the audience that wasted food leads to increased volume in landfills, more greenhouse gas being released into the air and negative consequences for animals and the environment. 

They made posters to raise awareness about the problem, and  graphed their consumption of snacks and food over the course of a few weeks to see if they were reducing their own amount of wasted food. It actually dropped from six pounds in one week, to two pounds. Their solutions included less talking and more eating during lunch time, making better food choices, only taking what they could finish and composting what was left. At least two students in Ms. Schulte's class said they have now started composting at home as a result of what they learned.

Sssshhhhh! Students at Work
Ms. Thompson's class took on the noise level in Price Hall, where movement and music classes can sometimes be disrupted by students going to lunch or going to and from the lower chool playground.

Posters hung near Price Hall entries and exits reminded students to be quiet. This class also made a video, encouraging student council members and classmates to spread the word about reducing the noise levels while students were in class.

The Community Helpers unit in first grade helps students learn how cooperation and collaboration can effect positive change, teaches leadership skills, and gives students an authentic audience for their work.

Vice President of Campus Operations Liz Bartow was a member of the panel watching the presentations.
"It was so fun to see how enthusiastic this students are about their projects," she said. "It teaches them that they can make an impact on their community."

    • First grade students researched problems and made proposals to solve them during the Community Helpers unit.

    • Ms. Gilgus's class decided to tackle trash left on the grounds after lunch.

    • Ms. Schulte's class wanted to reduce the amount of food that is wasted and sent to landfills.

    • Ms. Thompson's class wanted to create a quiter space around Price Hall.

    • They presented their research and finding to Head of School Dr. Tom Niermann, Director of Lower School Todd Nelson and Vice President of Campus Operations Liz Bartow..