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SAAS Earth Week 2021

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We learned from Science Teacher Grant Bowman that Earth Day is one of the largest secular holidays in the world. It was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970, when he decided to escalate environmental discussions to a national scale. To this day, environmental issues have remained on social and political platforms as a widely debated topic of interest. This is ever the more reason to continue celebrating Earth Day; or rather, as we at Seattle Academy like to do, celebrate Earth Week

It was a balance of Zoom activities and actual interaction with our environment last week. Thanks to our Upper School Environmental Activism Club (@saas.environmental on Instagram), there was no day in which Earth Week went unrecognized. Students, faculty and staff came together to plan daily activities honoring and exploring what and how environmental issues affect our lives.


On Monday and Tuesday, Grant Bowman and Ryanne Chitjian’s Upper School Science classes strutted their resourcefulness, quite literally, by participating in a Trash Fashion Show. Students showcased the latest in high fashion using only repurposed materials like paper and trash bags, orange juice containers, shoelaces, and other recyclables. Pizza container vests, straw paper headbands, tortilla wrap satchels—these items were as functional as they were fashionable. Next year we demand a runway. 


Grant also presented a short video by the Outrider Foundation, featuring Tia Nelson, the daughter of Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, and reminding us that “the environment will require a long sustained political, moral, ethical, and financial commitment far beyond any commitment ever made, by any society, in the history of man.” It also centered on the intention behind Earth Day and why we celebrate it each year with fervor. 

"Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures." Gaylord Nelson, April 1970 


Photo of Earth Week Panel 2021

Shelley Kunasek, Faculty Advisor of the Environmental Activism Club, also arranged an Environmental Career Panel on Tuesday with five panelists who hold a diverse range of environmental roles in some key companies here in Seattle. Panelists included Jason Evans from Energy Procurement at Amazon; Radcliffe Dacanay from Transportation and Planning at the City of Seattle; Alicia Smith of Geosyntec Consultants; Ravid Lahaie of Evergreen Recycling; and Carrie Lee from King County Metro Transit

Students had the opportunity to throw some big questions out, questions that don’t have black and white answers, such as: “What is the biggest lever companies have for combating climate change?” “What is the biggest hesitation for governments or companies to change?” “What is the relationship between individuals & larger companies in combating climate change—and what can individuals do to hold companies accountable?” 

Radcliffe from the City of Seattle tackled how large-scale change, such as implementing light-rail and other means of public transportation, requires additional considerations. One example is examining how all populations and communities access these outlets. He spoke on the challenges and considerations that the City of Seattle must explore to address equity as they work to create new infrastructure. . 

Jason from Amazon spoke of how a company that has such a heavy footprint—with same-day and next-day delivery—is perhaps one of the most important to include in the conversation of environmental impacts and proposed changes. 


Ryanne’s 12th-Grade Honors Algebra Physics classes found a solution to climate change—with Rube Goldberg Machines! A Rube Goldberg Machine is a contraption that uses a series of chain reactions to complete a simple task in a humorously complex manner. Students used their knowledge of Newtonian mechanics to create machines out of used household and recycled items. The result, while a chuckle, also saved valuable energy and resources.


Photo of Seattle Academy Earth Week Bingo 2021

Earth Day was Thursday! Students were prompted to pick up trash off the street, air dry laundry, and get outside—all in the name of Bingo. It was a beautiful, sunny day and an idyllic time to celebrate the very planet we are motivated to protect. 

All in all, there was a Quiz Show, group broadcasting of the New York Times 1619 Podcast, screening of Earth Initiative’s Virtual Stage + Festival, and numerous conversations centered around Mother Earth and our impact on the planet. Shall we say—a week is just not long enough? 

Special thanks to our Environmental Activism Club Leaders, our Science Faculty, and all of our SAAS participants this year. If you missed any of the events last week, rest assured, you can take a walk outside and enjoy nature anyday. 

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