Academy students learn from speakers at Earth Day activities

A week-long celebration of Earth Day brought guest speakers to Cheshire Academy and gave students the opportunity to give back to the local community and learn ways to protect the environment.

On Tuesday, April 19, Coleman Group and sustainability leaders hosted a “Women in Green” roundtable. Speakers included alumnus Michelle Hughes, director of operations and impact at the National Young Farmers Coalition; Megan Kacenski, arborist representative at Bartlett Tree Experts; Rachel Margolese, engineering and operations at Plankton Energy; the former Alejandra Perez-Pla, director of investments at Mutual Empathy; and Katie Symonds, Senior Project Architect at JCJ Architecture. The women spoke to the students about how they have taken an interest in their fields of work and how to ensure their voices are heard in male-dominated professions.

An Earth Day launch celebration on April 20 included conversations about social, economic and environmental injustices.

Sharon Lewis and Simran Kaur Ladhad of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental and Economic Justice were the day’s keynote speakers, providing a brief history of the origins of Earth Day and how people today can have the most positive impacts. and most meaningful to protect themselves, their friends and family, and the planet.

Lewis spoke in depth about the dangers that recycling facilities, highways, sewage treatment plants and landfills create for people living nearby. She said many people living near these areas are Black, Indigenous and people of color, and they are physically suffering from fumes, such as methane from waste in uncovered landfills. Lewis herself lives near an interstate off-ramp, and she said many of her neighbors have battled cancer due to poor air quality.

“We save the Earth, but at what cost?” Lewis asked the CA students. “Who really bears the burden of what we do?

After Lewis and Ladhad’s presentation, the students broke into small groups to attend a variety of workshops. Programs included:

• Join Jim Jinks, founder and executive director of local non-profit Bike Cheshire, for a ride on the Farmington Canal Linear Trail.

•Learn about racial inequality with Michelle Hughes, and the impacts the food industry has on the planet and climate change with students Hadixha Bella, Ava Capuano, Tyler Lin, Aishlinn Parrinello and Amelia Williams.

• Visit a local farm to remove invasive species from the property.

• Visit Keney Park in Windsor to learn more about aquaponics and hydroponics.

A plant-based lunch was served in the Gideon Welles Dining Commons, and guest speakers were on hand to talk about the environment.

On Thursday, April 21, Parrinello also introduced students in several science classes to the realities of climate change and the climate crisis, and stressed the importance of making changes to daily routines, such as using renewable energy. , by investing in energy-efficient appliances. , reduce waste, etc. She said her generation and the next will be those who will feel the effects of climate change the most.

On Friday, April 22, Parrinello led a field trip to the Connecticut State Capitol Building for the Earth Day Climate Strike.

Sara H. Byrd