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Briarcliff Students Get Outside for Green Week

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – One day wasn’t enough for Briarcliff Manor Middle School students to go green.

The middle school is celebrating Green Week as an initiative to get students outside of the classrooms and learn the importance of environmental-friendly activities first-hand. The week also marks the re-opening of the school’s Academia, an outdoor garden and classroom inspired by ancient Greek practices. Robert Iovino, a science and special education teacher at the middle school, said the group initially tried a “Green Day” last year. The event was so successful and received so much support from the community, Iovino said, that staff expanded the movement this year.

“It’s really about connecting kids back to nature,” Iovino said. “I think so much of what we do is we tell them about the problems and ask them to fix it. But I think a kid has to really be invested and put a plant in the ground to really want to do something further with it.”

Iovino added that it was important to start Green Week this week on the heels of Mother’s Day.

“We wanted to use that day as a jumping off point to celebrate Mother Earth,” Iovino said. “It’s something the kids have gotten really excited about. But it’s also been more about community-building among the middle school.”

Iovino later noted that the school’s Greenhouse Club helped inspire the idea behind Academia and a lot of the school’s movements toward green activities and programs. Academia was started in 2009 with the help of funding and support from the Briarcliff Manor Education Foundation , which also helps fund the Greenhouse Club.

Sixth-grader Max Pushkin, a member of the school’s Greenhouse Club, said the movement is inspiring students throughout the school.

“I think everyone is taking a pretty positive impact on it,” the 12-year-old Max said. “It feels really special to be a part of the school and to come together. I like the idea of saving the earth and making eco-friendly in a way that makes it really fun.”

Eleven-year-old Tyler Leitman, who’s also involved with Greenhouse Club, said he loved Green Week because it offered a new way to learn.

“Learning with all these SmartBoard lessons, my eyes bug out and it can get annoying,” Tyler said. “But I love being outside in the fresh air and especially in Academia because it makes me feel like home. It feels great to be connected too.”

Alexis Resta, 12, said she also loved experiencing the outdoors as a part of a school community.

“I wanted to help the world but this is really fun because I can have fun with my friends while I’m doing it,” Alexis said. “Most people seem really excited about it because we all get to be outside.”

Several students, like sixth-grader Rebeka Walker, said they enjoy learning about green initiatives in all of their classes.

“We’re reading the book ‘Seed Folks’ in our English classes and it’s about a community garden and it’s really fun to learn about that and help the environment,” Rebeka said. Several classes are getting outside and planting the same flowers and plants used in the book. “It’s really good for us to get to know our surroundings. But the school also makes it really fun too.”

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