Last year when Chesnut’s Ecology Club launched, about 30 students signed up to become Chesnut Changers. They created the club’s pledge, brainstormed slogans to promote DeKalb County’s Farm-to-School monthly lunches, and had plenty of fun learning how to be good stewards of their environment.
We ended our inaugural year with a delicious celebration of eating local: winning a grant to fund fresh-baked pizzas with organic, Georgia-grown toppings for everyone on Field Day. This was a big hit with the kids and adults alike, which we hoped would increase support for Farm-to-School programs at Chesnut.
The first encouraging sign as we returned to school this year, was the PTA and administration agreeing to form a new Wellness Committee to oversee Ecology Club and other programs that support DeKalb County’s Wellness Policy. The first meeting is Tuesday, Sept. 11th, 3 pm, in Mr. Shiverick’s classroom — join us!
Then there were the sign-up sheets that accompanied a tri-fold poster board advertising Ecology Club activities. These were meant to gauge parents’ interest in Ecology Club on Registration Day and Curriculum Night. Additional pages had to be added, as the list of names spilled into the margins.
Next our principal, Ms. Veronica Williams, approved a bulletin board for us in the cafeteria (thank you Mr. Slayton for installing so quickly!) where we can generate awareness about the benefits of local, healthy eating and the DeKalb County Farm-to-School food of the month.
Though we were encouraged by these signs, little did we expect the response once registration forms were sent home:
Our numbers have doubled!
Currently about 60 children have signed up for Ecology Club. It’s important to note that we have also doubled our parent involvement. Parent Jenny Bell, certified in children’s yoga, will lead us in Garden Yoga at the start of each meeting. We have three parent sponsors, and more parents who plan to attend our kick-off meeting today (more on that in a later post). We also have Chesnut Kindergarten teachers Mr. Mark Chicoine and Ms. Ginna Hobgood helping run our meetings. Our intent is to focus on hands-on activities to keep everyone engaged, and ask lots of questions to get the kids thinking and contributing to our programs.
We hope this growth trend will eventually merit a look at how we can incorporate Farm-to-School curriculum into the schoolday, so as to include all students. And we thank all our new families for becoming Chesnut Changers!