Sustainability in our Service Learning Program
Keeping with Woodlawn’s practice of building ongoing partnerships between school and community, our service learning program incorporates sustainability as a central theme for certain grade levels.
Beginning in fifth grade, students take charge of the very important task of campus recycling. They become the student leaders for our campus recycling program teaching others best recycling practices and reminding their peers the importance of doing so. They also instruct students and teachers on ways to reduce energy usage on campus. This is the group behind the “Turn off the lights!” signage that you will see in our campus restrooms! Throughout the year, fifth graders visit all the classrooms and offices on a weekly basis to collect the recyclables. At times it can be a “mountainous” job, but they always have fun doing it.
The sixth grade service learning program is animal advocacy, through which students learn about the impact humans have on wildlife and the environment. Through field trips to the Humane Society and Carolina Raptor Center, students develop a greater appreciation for animal life and realize the importance of the human role in protecting their natural environment. The study of birds is part of an integrated bird migration unit in which students examine birds and bird migration in science, service learning, music, art, language arts and math. Every spring, sixth graders “adopt” a bird at the Raptor Center, paying for the adoption with money earned from selling pepper and tomato plants they have grown in the Woodlawn greenhouse. This field trip is integral to student understanding of the natural world as an interdependent and living system, vulnerable to pollution and overuse, and dependent on humans to make the right decisions to protect America’s natural heritage so raptors can continue to soar in our skies.
Niinth graders use their service learning discussions to springboard community action plans that address environmental issues in our area. The students examine humankind’s relationship to the natural world through art and literature, and identify ways that they, individually, can contribute to a sustainable society. The ninth grade year culminates in an overnight trip to the Outer Banks to participate in an environmental education program at Sound to Sea. Students take the Barrier Island Ecology Course and explore the five habitats (beach/ocean, maritime forest, freshwater pond, salt marsh, and sound/estuary), geological history, basic ecological concepts and general habitat study skills that are reinforced throughout the entire program. The current events program challenges students to think about the dangers of the loss of biodiversity to human health and gives them a chance to learn about population growth, climate change, air and water quality, waste disposal and energy consumption. Being able to walk from the sound to the sea, in a matter of minutes, and see the complex ecosystems empowers students to conserve our environment.