MONTVILLE, NJ – Nick Liao is the President of the Montville Township High School Earth Club. The junior is also a Valley View Elementary School alumni.
On Wednesday, April 22, Liao and ten other members of the MTHS Earth Club came to Valley View to celebrate Earth Day. The eleven high school students have been working all year to create an interactive, educational, event to teach elementary students about conservation.
“The club has been mostly about service,” Liao said of the MTHS Earth Club. He explained that the club’s members often clean-up parks or help with Adopt-A-Road type events.
But in October, a bigger idea came to Liao.
“I wanted to implement creative ways for others to be involved,” Liao added.
So on Earth Day, the MTHS Earth Club launched a hands-on Earth Day conservation program for sixty-two Valley View fifth graders.
“Nick reached out to me in October,” said math teacher Mark Danilack. “I had him for fifth grade science and he wanted to ask us, Dr. Kennedy and me, what we thought of his idea to educate others about conservation.”
“He was so passionate,” said Principal Dr. Patricia Kennedy. “He had such a clear proposal and vision, that we said ‘Yes’ right away,”
Liao kicked off the event by handing out awards to four of Valley View’s fourth grade Girl Scouts from Troop #4967. The Scouts, Gabriella Suppa, Sophia Dulligan, Jordan Quinn and Jordan Vielee, had volunteered their time during the Montville Township Earth Day celebration, on Saturday, April 18, to clean the Valley View Grounds.
Liao then began building excitement by asking Valley View’s fifth grade students what Earth Day is, and listening as they responded with answers such as: “It’s a holiday where we celebrate the Earth,” “It’s everything about the Earth,” and “It’s the Earth’s birthday.”
Once everyone was ready to celebrate Earth Day, the MTHS students began the Earth Day event they had developed specifically for Valley View School.
The format of the day included five stations that were rotated through every ten minutes by twelve students at a time. Two MTHS Earth Club members facilitated each of the stations. Liao provided overall coordination between the Valley View students and the MTHS facilitators.
The five stations were: Paper Recycling with junior Richard Xu and sophomore Serena Huang; Planting Sunflowers, facilitated by senior Victoria Chang and sophomore Corey Benson; Organic Food with junior Amish Patel and senior Tiffany Lai; the Oil Spill station with Evan Chan, a sophomore, and senior Justin Huang; and the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle game with junior David Eng and sophomore Peter Ho.
In the stations students: Raced to fill their recycling bins, simulated efforts to clean oil (corn syrup) off of waterfowl (rubber duckies), practiced gardening, discussed chemically verses organically raised food, and made new paper out of used paper.
“This is wonderful,” Kennedy said as she surveyed a room of sixty-two excited and thoroughly engaged fifth-grade students.
“Look,” she said as she gestured to the room. “With this program these high school students are educating sixty-two students, and they, in turn, will educate others. This program has a ripple effect.”
Through games and hands on activities, the Valley View students learned how recycling paper and other trash products helps to protect the earth, how planting flowers protects air and water quality, why organic gardening benefits humans and other life forms, and how oil spills can impact the environment years into the future.
“We’re trying this, this year, and I hope we can expand and we will be able to bring this program to other Montville elementary schools next year,” Liao said.
“Nick was so organized,” Kennedy added. “He has kept in touch with us regularly since October.”
Kennedy, Danilack and MTHS Earth Club advisor, Paul Rolfe helped to guide the eleven Earth Club members as they designed the Earth Day event.
Rolfe noted how hard the MTHS students worked to prepare the educational event. “They have done hours of research and planned all the details.”
“This is wonderful,” concluded Kennedy. “I will certainly recommend this program to other elementary principals.”