April 21, 2023 - Celebrating Earth Day 2023

The Ann Arbor Public Schools, with a long-standing commitment to the environment, is celebrating Earth Day 2023. Each year on April 22, we mark the anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970 as the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Today, Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world. More than a billion people every year celebrate this as a day of action to change human behavior and create better global, national and local policies to protect our health and environment.

In classrooms across the AAPS, Earth Day presents an excellent opportunity for learning as students, their teachers and school teams explore and celebrate a shared commitment to environmental sustainability. 

At our Board of Education Meeting on Wednesday, we were delighted to hear from two environmentally-minded student groups who shared the excellent work they have been involved in this year. We heard from the Freeman Youth Council, a district-wide high school environmental group, who presented the results of a cafeteria waste audit they had recently completed. We also heard from the Pioneer Solar Club, who shared their findings from a study of the solar systems in AAPS schools. You may view the Freeman Youth Council presentation here, and the Pioneer Solar Club presentation here.

The Freeman Youth Council members who shared include:

  • Coert Ambrosino Environmental Educator
  • Isabel Sutton Pioneer HS
  • Maisie Weyhing Pioneer HS
  • Michael Mychaliska Skyline HS
  • Helen Kucinski Skyline HS

The Pioneer Solar Club members who shared include:

  • Stephen Armstrong Science Teacher
  • Margaret Wozniak President 
  • Lillian Botsford-Rhodes Vice President 
  • Brent Ceccacci Public Outreach
  • Mackenzie Cruz Secretary  
  • Abby Bowers Member
  • David Konkle Renewable Energy Mentor

Additional AAPS Highlights of Earth Day Celebrations

A2 STEAM participated in Earth Day activities by planting, digging and cleaning their playground. It is an exciting time as 5th graders will soon be releasing their baby salmon into the Huron River.  

Abbot students went on an Earth Day walk and had an Earth Day scavenger hunt. They also have been participating in cleaning up around our school to help keep the school and earth clean and healthy.

Carpenter students completed several activities on Friday, April 21st, during specials in celebration of Earth Day.  Activities included Earth Day read-aloud, wildflower seeds, scavenger hunt and Earth Day poster.

Clague virtual field trips through their science classes for earth day. Students will learn about water and ground pollution. 

Huron Earth Day - Day of Service

Huron Diploma Programme and Career Programme students recently participated in a day of service at Freeman Environmental Education Center.  This day brought almost all DP/CP juniors together to participate in a fundamental core value of the International Baccalaureate course of study is Service. The students removed invasive species, laid mulch over cardboard, and cleared trails in preparation for spring and summer elementary groups that will come through the environmental education center.

Huron English Language Arts: Creative Writing

Creative writing students are writing nature poems in sidewalk chalk outside Huron at the end of the week (weather permitting).

Logan student council will host a grounds clean-up and seed-planting activity to celebrate Earth Day. They included a sign-up for those wanting to plant flowers.

Pioneer Earth Day Activities

  • Biology classes have "adopted" trees around the campus & have been charting them all year
  • Biology students each have a plant in the greenhouse they are following the progress on
  • Plant club is having an upcoming plant sale
  • Earth Science & Biology classes will be walking the grounds picking up trash
  • A controlled burn is planned for the Pioneer Prairie (once the weather cooperates)
  • We have grants in place for native planting 
  • Identifying & removing invasive species 
  • A waste audit was completed on the cafeteria to examine percentages of compostable & recyclable material in the waste
  • A rain garden is on campus & will get its annual cleaning up after AP Exams
  • Forensics Science is exploring the possible correlation between climate change & violent crimes
  • The Sustainability Club is working to re-establish itself & work on funneling our recycle to recycling.

Slauson will be sharing slides during advisory about earth day. Additionally, some staff and students will participate in the Slauson beautification around the building. 

Rec & Ed’s Before/After Care programs at seven elementary buildings are doing the following activities:

  • Taking care of the environment by picking up litter on the playground
  • A craft to repurpose plastic jars and water bottles
  • Setting Earth Day intentions
  • Conducting an experiment related to ocean oil spill cleanup 
  • Exploring different types of pollution through an interactive activity

Freeman Environmental Youth Council and AAPS Environmental Education Program

The Freeman Environmental Youth Council will again this year host a booth at the Ann Arbor Earth Day Festival.  Youth Council’s Education Subcommittee has planned and trialed trivia, nature art and recycling sort activities; council members will be facilitating them for youth attendees in the Nature House at Leslie Science & Nature Center. Earth Day Festival 2023 is Sunday, April 23, from 12-4 pm.

In the AAPS Environmental Education Program, and in the week leading up to Earth Day 2023, we have 3rd-grade classes participating in Habitat Walks and Pond Habitat studies, 4th-grade classes visiting the gravel pit to study Michigan geology, and 6th-grade classes studying stormwater management in our “Weather & Water Walk” lesson!

We are so very proud of the work of our students and staff in our schools and classrooms in their shared commitment to making a difference in protecting our health and our environment.

You can read more about the context of our AAPS commitment to Environmental Sustainability here

You may review the AAPS Framework for Environmental Sustainability here

You may see a recent update on the Environmental Sustainability work in the AAPS, including a baseline review of Greenhouse emissions here

Together, we will continue to move the AAPS forward in responsibly living an evolving organizational and community commitment to the environment, with the goal of serving as a model school district in the country. 

We look forward to continued engagement and partnership with our students, staff and families,  community and environmental leaders, local climate change and sustainability experts and concerned citizens in our collective effort to serve as strong stewards of our planet within our own Ann Arbor community today and for future generations.

Jeanice Kerr Swift
Superintendent of Schools
Ann Arbor Public Schools