Our students' enthusiasm and commitment for making this community and world a better place is inspiring. Since the start of this school year, our students have demonstrated this in many different ways. Civic engagement is foundational to who we are as a school. At a basic level, civic engagement is about enhancing the quality of life and creating change that supports our community, which is what we try to do at DGS.
What does this look like for our students? This year, it started with creating a movement within our community by students helping their families compost (either at home or bring it to school) and to recycle properly/reducing waste. It’s incredible how many more families are composting this year, keeping valuable resources out of the landfill.
We have taken this to a community level by getting permission from the town of
Davidson to collect data on recycling containers in the downtown area. The research question that lower elementary and middle students collected data on was:“ Is Davidson recycling right on Main Street.” Middle school students presented their findings to town leaders and made suggestions as to how they can improve recycling efforts. In addition, students passed out recycling fliers to local businesses. They received a lot of positive feedback and were able to educate several individuals.
At Christmas in Davidson, we took the “Recycle Right” message to the broader community. Over the years, we have been the recycling hub at Christmas in Davidson, but this was our most successful year as far as connecting with individuals about recycling right. This positive response is the result of an eye-catching display created by middle schoolers. In addition, our middle schoolers volunteered to be the recycling ambassadors, making sure items got correctly recycled.
This fall, Upper elementary was busy designing an educational herb garden that supports pollinators. They hope to inspire others to produce local herbs, creating habitat, thus increasing biodiversity and benefiting pollinators. After presenting their design to Flat Iron (who is supporting our efforts by letting us use their garden and purchasing supplies) and learning about plant growth requirements, they broke ground and planted southern highbush blueberries and paw paws. This spring, the medical and culinary herb plants will go in.
How else have our DGS students been engaged in the community this past fall? As we prepared for the new farmers market season, students commented that this is another way that we are involved in civic engagement. We are supporting the local food movement, which significantly reduces the carbon footprint of shipping food across the country; we have conversations about improving soil health through using our worm castings, inspire others to plant herbs, and offer products that are sustainably produced. Also, many of our students jump on the opportunity to volunteer at the Veterinary Hospital of Davidson (thanks Nicole for reaching out to us!) to care for cats rescued from the hurricane. DGS also provided crafts at the Downtown Art Festival community event.
We also are engaged with Ada Jenkins throughout the year. Before the holidays, middle students collected items that Ada Jenkins was in immediate need of for their clients. This winter and early spring, we will harvest greens from our aquaponics system so their clients can have fresh, organic produce, which is very limited at the food bank this time of year. Throughout the year, middle school students are also out in the community doing 10-20 hours of volunteer work.
Looking ahead this spring, Davidson Green School is helping to host the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day along with the Town of Davidson and the Davidson Land Conservancy. We will also be hosting the Young Artists Showcase at the Art on the Green, which gives local youth an opportunity to display their work.
Lastly, the whole school took part in the youth organized Global Climate strike. Much of our action is on the local level, so it was important for us to be part of a global youth movement.
Civic engagement is fundamental to who we are at DGS. It is just what we do and what we have always done since the very beginning. We are grateful to you all for supporting DGS and your children in all these fantastic opportunities for connection and to create change.