Earth Month on the Island

Loomis Chaffee celebrated Earth Month in April with a program of activities and events ranging from forums and debates to syrup-tasting and trail work.

The school’s Alvord Center for Global & Environmental Studies organized the events in collaboration with the Norton Family Center for the Common Good, Project Green, Loomis Chaffee Climate Action, the Loomis Chaffee Pancake Society, the Loomis Chaffee Debate Society, the Performing Arts Department, the Pearse Hub for Innovation (PHI), and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).

Students kicked off the month with a climate and environment town hall with U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal in dialogue with six Loomis student leaders on Tuesday, March 30. Sen. Blumenthal answered questions about the government’s role in addressing climate and environmental crises, the challenge of building consensus in the United States about climate change, and environmental racism. The virtual conversation drew in more than 200 students, teachers, and other guests from high schools and middle schools across Connecticut.

On Saturday, April 3, students joined the Loomis Chaffee Pancake Society for pancakes doused in LC maple syrup made by senior Alejandro Rincon. A student leader in environmental programs at Loomis, Alejandro took on maple sugaring as his senior capstone project in the Global & Environmental Studies Certificate program, boiling down and filtering more than 40 gallons of sap collected from trees around campus.

During a community free period on Tuesday, April 6, Project Green held an outdoor “Make Your Own Bookmark” event in front of the Katharine Brush Library, featuring paper made from recycled cardboard.

Bookmark-making was followed by an outdoor version of “Fun in the PHI” on Friday, April 9, on Rockefeller Quad. Students created teacup gardens from upcycled coffee mugs and teacups, which were created in the PHI.

Week three of Earth Month started on Monday, April 12, with a Green New Deal Grand Parliamentary Debate, organized by senior Simone Moales as part of her Global & Environmental Studies Certificate capstone project. Simone was joined by the Loomis Chaffee Debate Society to engage in discussion to better understand the Green New Deal and its effectiveness in mitigating the nation’s use of fossil fuels.  

Students enjoyed an Earth-themed Open Mic night on Tuesday, April 13, on Rockefeller Quad. The event featured a performance by the A Cappelicans, a tuba variation of the theme song from The Godfather, and more.

On Wednesday, April 14, the Office of DEI and the student organization People Rising in Support of Multiculturalism (PRISM) hosted “What is Environmental Justice?,” an open conversation exploring the impact of environmental racism and our collective social responsibility. Later that afternoon, students joined environmental proctors to help improve the campus grounds by constructing a woodchip trail near the school’s solar energy field.

Week four started with “Meatless Monday” in the dining hall on April 19. Various plant-based protein options were available for lunch to bring awareness of the carbon emissions from animal agriculture. Later in the day, students were invited to a Climate Change Science Webinar featuring environmental anthropologist Kenny Broad. Participants they learned about the impact of climate change through the lens of underwater cave exploring. Dr. Broad, who studies the relationship between humans and their environment, has participated in scientific and filmmaking expeditions on every continent to gather information and samples that help shed light on little-known environmental and cultural subjects.

On Tuesday, April 20, Innovation Trimester (I-Tri) students presented a Climate Justice & Environmental Education Panel. The students are spending a term outside of their regular classes identifying and solving problems in the local area around the theme of sustainability. As part of their collaboration with local entrepreneur and activist Leticia Colon de Mejias, the I-Tri panel focused on ensuring that all students throughout the community have access to inclusive and diverse climate change education that sparks interest and action related to environmental conservation.

The Loomis Chaffee community celebrated Earth Day on Thursday, April 22, by wearing green, checking out the student-designed Earth Month mural, enjoying a locally sourced meal in the dining hall, and signing the Alvord Center’s Earth Day Pledge.

In the final week of Earth Month, student volunteers helped clean up the Farmington and Connecticut river banks on Thursday, April 27, and the week culminated with an Eco-Food Truck and Mountainfilm Festival on Friday, April 20. The documentary film festival showcased stories about environmental, cultural, climbing, political, and social justice issues. 

“Earth Month was a huge collaborative effort,” said Marley Matlack, the Christopher H. Lutz Director of the Alvord Center. “This work is everywhere, it affects everything on campus, and to make a difference in environmental sustainability, we have to work together.”