Villa Maria Academy students, from the youngest up to 8th graders, paraded through Country Club last Friday, April 23 to spread their love of Mother Earth.
In a long parade procession that involved the entire school, students went out the front gate and turned left onto Country Club Road. Next they went right on Polo Place, then right on Stadium, and finally marched right back into the school. The entire event took a little less than 45 minutes, which surprised some parents. “They’re walking so much faster this year, I can barely keep up,” huffed one father.
During the parade, younger students wore elaborate necklaces or hats comprised of twigs and leaves, while older students carried large signs or posters. Kids chanted, “Save our Earth!” and “Save our trees!” One 8th grader kept calling out jokingly, “Save the whales!”
Mothers and fathers stood by taking photographs. “The school definitely got Earth Day into their heads,” said Joann Tabarroni. “My daughter all week has been asking, When is Earth Day? When is Earth Day?” Even people driving by or police officers brought in to clos the street couldn’t help but smile at the studentds in their blue Villa Maria sweatsuits, marching along, many holding hands.
Meanwhile, school administrator Sister Blanche Laporte ran around alongside groups, organizing the children and speaking with parents. “She’s all over the place right now, she lives for this,” said a mother.
Emily Stewart, an eigth grader who has recently been named a member of the National Junior Honors Society, said that even though the parade is more centered around the little kids, she always gets into it: “I’ve been doing this since pre-K, but it’s still fun.” Stewart and her friends created a giant peace sign made from recycled cans, attached it to a big square of posterboard, and marched with it in the parade. Her time at Villa Maria ends in a few short weeks, and for high school, she’ll be going to Dominican Academy in the city.
One student, fifth-grader Brittany Marasciulo, wrote a poem she’ll read when the students go outside to dedicate some of the school’s newly planted trees next week: “The earth needs our help, she needs our assistance, if we try hard enough, we can go the distance,” she wrote. “The earth is our home, the earth is our house, she loves everyone, from human to mouse.” Her mother Sonia was proud to have her daughter so involved in the events. “That’s the quality of the education here, is that my daughter could write that.”
Indeed, over the past two weeks Villa Maria has incorporated environmental education into classes. The new mini-curriculum is aptly called “treechers” by the administrators and faculty.
“The community is so supportive of all this,” said Laporte, wearing a t-shirt that said ‘Give green a chance’ on the front. “This is a wonderful thing for the kids, to make them see this as a serious, significant holiday.”
Reach Daniel Roberts at (718) 742-3383 or droberts@c