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NAEC's Nature Club - nuturing young green thumbsby Julie Druker
Photo: l-r Amy Chabot, Judy Cuddy and Amy Kay assist members of the NAEC Nature Club plant flowers
After noticing the darkening skies outside, Amy Chabot offered up a few options to students in North Addington Education Centre's Nature Club. Option #1: stay inside and play games or Option #2, go outside and garden. After which, one eager student shouted enthusiastically, “Let's garden, Let's garden!”
Thanks to Amy Chabot and her after-school Nature Club, which began last year and which runs every other week for two hours on Mondays, 20 students at NAEC are learning a lot about gardening and loving it. On May 22 when I visited the school, Amy and 15 students with spades in hand were planting the five large cement planters at the school's entrance with four different kinds of flowers: teddy bear sunflowers, nicotiana, zinnias and marigolds. Amy said that all four will attract bees and butterflies and will require little watering and maintenance over the summer months. The students in previous meetings have also planted numerous shrubs (donated by the Friends of the Salmon River) along the creek by the school.
Chabot is a conservation biologist with a PhD in biology. She works as a biology consultant is also an enthusiastic hobby market gardener. She founded the nature club at the school with the idea that students benefit from learning about nature, gardening and the outdoors. “Learning about the world we live in and learning to respect it is something important for children to learn. Through this work students learn that they are part of this world. We live in this beautiful place and it is important to give these kids an appreciation of nature, the knowledge of how to respect it and also how to respect each other,” Amy said.
The program is able to run thanks to the three volunteers who assist with the club (Amy Kay, Judy Cuddy and Sam Scaletti) and also from the generosity of the Land O'Lakes Garden Club and the Friends of the Salmon River, both of whom have donated materials and funds for the program.
Amy is hoping to expand the club next year by offering it to more students and has plans to get the school's long defunct greenhouses up and running again. In the meantime the students in the club are enjoying getting their hands dirty and helping in creating a greener, more colorful school.
Amy, the volunteers and the generous donors are also hoping to see the NAEC Nature Club continue to grow into the future.
Visitors present student-produced presentation at NAECby Valerie Allan
NHHS students perform at NAEC. Photo by Carly Bond
On May 19, students at North Addington Education Centre (NAEC) were given food for thought by a production put on by students from North Hastings High School in Bancroft. The play was called "If They Only Knew" and the group of students call themselves WCMAD (We can make a difference). They are part of a Theatre Production course at NHHS.
The students were responsible for coming up with productions aspects such as posters, tickets, and newspaper and radio ads. They also did all the writing and the acting. Since February, they have been working on the collective process, taking an issue or topic and work-shopping script-writing ideas and putting the script together. It is a very collaborative process, as their teacher, Allison Jowett explained. The students put the script together based on things they have experienced or witnessed as high school students.
They have been touring the production, and have still 5 possible locations to visit with students ranging from Grade 7/8 to Grade 12.
At NAEC, the students performed for the entire secondary school first. They then ran the production again for the Grade 7/8 class. They had a break for lunch, during which they played basketball with the Intermediate students. Their final curtain-call was for the Grade 5/6 and 6/7 classes.
The production discussed themes which concern students, such as bullying, peer pressure, racism, homophobia and healthy relationships.
The production was very well received by both students and staff. Miles Taylor remarked on the skilful choreography in a scene where one student appeared to be manipulating another like a puppet. Dallas Daisy Arney said she found the production to be moving and engrossing, and said the acting was excellent. Mrs. Salmond, principal of NAEC, felt that it was a “very topical, timely examination of the pressures students face. It was a very well-produced piece which held everyone’s interest for an entire hour.”