On April 5th and 6th, LCHS 8th graders zipped up their hoodies, rolled up their sleeves, and put on rubber gloves. An important task awaited them on what would become a very memorable field trip.
All year, Dr. Gold along with the 7/8 faculty and staff, have been incorporating motifs of social awareness, kindness, and environmental responsibility into the daily lessons of their students. With topics ranging from anti-bullying to wildlife and ecology, assemblies this year have shared a common purpose: to challenge students to realize that their actions, both positive and negative, yield consequences not only for themselves but also for others and the world around them.
Still, believing that a practical experience would provide the greatest impact, Dr. Gold decided to set up a field trip that would enable students to experience positive change first-hand. LCHS 7/8 teamed up with the Heal the Bay organization to provide a proactive opportunity centered on protecting the environment. “A Heal the Bay representative came to an assembly about a week beforehand and talked to us about ecology and why cleaning up is important, especially with what trash can do to the animals,” recounted Dr. Gold, “We found out we were assigned an area to clean, spanning three lifeguard stations, at Santa Monica Beach.”
When they arrived there, students expected to see a beach covered in visible trash, but from a distance, they thought it looked fairly unpolluted. Upon closer inspection, however, they saw that the beach was indeed heavily littered. As Dr. Gold explained, “They had log sheets to tally everything they found. One kid found 286 pieces of small plastic. They explained that a piece of plastic the size of your fingernail is what usually kills the animals. Another kid removed over 100 cigarettes from the sand. The kids were very surprised to find how much garbage can be found in such a small portion of the beach.”
Removing trash from a beach is indeed hard work, but it is also rewarding work. Once they saw the result of their combined efforts--a cleaner, safer beach--the students felt proud of their accomplishment. They also got to have some fun along the way. When a student discovered some bones in the sand, science teacher Mr. Constantinides stepped forward to examine them and help the students determine that they belonged to a small bird. After the clean-up, students participated in a sand castle competition on the newly litter-free sand.
For their act of service, the 8th graders will be receiving a certificate of appreciation from the California Coastal Commission; however, Dr. Gold and his faculty and staff hope that through all the assemblies and classroom lessons, they have developed a deeper appreciation for spreading positivity and serving others.
For anyone who would like to continue to volunteer for Heal the Bay, information can be found here.