In recognition of Earth Day, Silas Wood educator, Ms. Sue Cirillo and members of her class worked together to transform the Sixth-Grade Center’s front entrance garden. Sourcing materials from our kind friends at Home Depot, their donations enabled the class to manifest their landscaping plans to beautify what has been aptly named, the Peace Garden.
Ms. Cirillo turned a math and social studies lesson into a tranquil and meaningful group project that her in-person and virtual students truly enjoyed. The students designed the entire layout of the garden as Ms. Cirillo handed out the responsibility of measuring out, planning, and choosing which plants to include so that her students were involved each step of the way. The students selected hydrangeas, azaleas, and small pine trees to decorate the space while the group hoisted their shovels and trowels to make their design tangible.
This was a wonderful opportunity for them to be outside and connect with each other and the Earth. Recognizing that the first celebrated Earth Day was in 1970, Ms. Cirillo incorporated history into the lesson to pay tribute to the celebrated day. As part of their social studies curriculum, the sixth-graders learn about the five world religions and their common aspects. “Every religion, though different, has commonalities,” Ms. Cirillo teaches her students, “and the main commonality each religion has is to protect Mother Earth and to treat the earth with dignity and respect.”
Students throughout the building were invited to paint rocks with motivational messages to then be placed around the garden’s perimeter. Social studies students furthered their learning by picking one of the five religions to inspire their rock paintings and continue developing their understanding of the world religion and how it connects to the Earth. “This is a legacy to them,” Ms. Cirillo expressed, “so that in years to come, a part of them will still be here.” The students left their footprint in the best way, and as it serves as a beautiful and bright entry into their school, the garden will continue to grow just as the students will.
As part of the planning process, the students worked together to write a letter to Home Depot’s corporate headquarters, describing their plans to transform the school’s Peace Garden and how they would appreciate the help of Home Depot in doing so. Because of this well-written letter, the Huntington Home Depot graciously donated over $300 in gift certificates to help this initiative! The donations went a long way in turning the garden into a meditative oasis at the entrance of the building, and with the added donations, a tree will be planted in memory of Joannie Perz, a secretary at Silas Wood for over 30 years who had sadly passed away in 2020. We are so grateful to Ms. Cirillo, Mrs. Lupton, Mrs. Henselder, Ms. Bermudez, Mr. Williams, and their Silas Wood sixth-grade gardeners for putting together this wonderful tribute to be enjoyed for years to come!