Conerly Road School 3rd Graders Hold Bake Sale For Amazon Rain Forest

Conerly Road School students Naseem Dobbins and Jocelyn Knight (left to right) led the bake sale effort, with the help of teachers Felicia Osley and Sarah Greenfield (left to right).

It’s not often that reading a book as part of an assignment can spur young students to action, but that’s just what happened with a group of Conerly Road School 3rd Graders.

The students, taught by Sarah Greenfield and Felicia Osley, were so moved by what they’d read and seen about the systematic destruction of the Amazon rain forest that they decided to do something to help.

Two students – Naseem Dobbins and Jocelyn Knight – came up with the idea of a bake sale and, with the help of Greenfield, set about to make it happen.

It all started when Greenfield and Osley’s classes read “The Great Kapok Tree” by author and environmentalist Lynne Cherry, Greenfield said.

“Once we finished reading the story, even though it’s fictional, every day in real life, people go into the rain forests and cut down trees, too many of them, and the kids actually were really upset by it,” said Greenfield, who teaches reading and writing, and who has been teamed with Osley. “They said we have to do something about it.”

“We kept reading more and more about the rain forests, I started pulling current events articles, I was pulling Scholastic articles, we were comparing information from the books we read to the articles, and they gained a lot of knowledge and they said we want to contribute,” she said. “The kids decided to go on to Lynne Cherry’s web site, and they found her organization (Young Voices for the Planet), where students across the country raise money for environmental causes. So the kids decided to raise money for the rain forest.”

Gibbons and Knight broached the idea of a bake said, Greenfield said. The two students took the lead and, with her help, a poster advertising the sale was created and letters describing the effort were sent home to parents.

The two-week sale started Jan. 9. Every day, during their lunch period, different students manned a table in the cafeteria, Greenfield said.

At the end of the two weeks, the students were surprised to find that they’d raised $347, she said.

The two student leaders said the experience left them with a good feeling.

“I feel great because we raised a lot of money to help the rain forest,” Knight said.

Knight said she wanted to get involved because “we felt strongly to help the rain forest because of the destruction we saw, and we felt determined to do something.”

Dibbons, who said he wanted to also help the animals who call the rain forest home, said he got involved because “we read lots of books and saw videos of them destroying the rain forest, so we felt bad that they were destroying the rain forest and the animals’ homes, so we wanted to help them.”

Osley and Greenfield said they were not surprised that children so young would have definite opinions on  a matter such as the destruction of the rain forest.

“We teach them to have opinions,” said Osley, who teaches math and science. “We’re on a unit now in Social Studies talking about social injustices, and taking a look at people’s lives, especially African Americans, since this is Black History Month.”

“We’ve been talking about when our rights are violated what we do,” she said. “So we’re teaching hem that they do have a voice, even at this age.”

And there could me more to come, Greenfield said.

“We continue to learn about issues that matter to us,” she said. “Right now we’re doing essays on homelessness, endangered species, so we’re kind of still in that mindset of learning about causes and global issues.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if someone came up with another idea in the near future, maybe a new cause,” Greenfield said. “Jocelyn mentioned maybe doing a walk-a-thon in the spring. That’s something we cold explore. I’m sure that others might have some ideas down the road.”


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