School's message: protect the environment

CHICAGO You're never too young to protect the planet. That's the message from a group of Chicago students.

It's so much fun; they forget that they're learning, but learning is taking place at a new school in Chicago.

There's no mistaking the excitement. Maybe it's the worms, the dirt and the plants. Whatever the reason, these youngsters are eager to learn.

Student Adrian Villafranco said, "We help the plants so the world can be beautiful."

Making the world more beautiful is the basic idea behind this new charter school on the southwest side.

It's called the Academy for Global Citizenship. It's only been around since August. It's the brain-child of Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, founder and executive director of the Academy for Global Citizenship.

"We are the first Chicago Public school really to be incorporating environmental sustainability and wellness education along with global engagement and connecting kids with the world," Ippel stated.

They take the word "global" quite literally. Today, these first-graders are talking to one of their teachers whose doing environmental research in the Arctic Circle.

"What did you find down there, Mrs. Ellis?" asks one student.

Fascinating stuff for five and six-year-olds!

"I never knew about climate change and I never knew that polar bears drank milk from their mom," explains student Caleb Gallagher.

Speaking of food, even meals are learning experiences for the young ecology buffs. They're eating organic meals and sorting their leftovers in an environmentally-friendly manner.

"You'll find the students working in an organic garden learning about the solar energy that we have up on our roof. They compost and recycle and do yoga have nutrition education and all sorts of wellness-focused activities throughout the day as well," said Ippel.

Perhaps all of this will pay off as these young people get older. But right now, it's just a fun lesson to learn.

"Because we want to help the earth," said student Monica Antunez.

Right now, the academy is only open to kids in kindergarten and first grade. It's free, but there's a long waiting list to get in.

Administrators are hoping to raise money for a bigger building to handle more students and higher grades levels.

Academy for Global Citizenship
5101 South Keeler Avenue

Chicago, Illinois 60632
773.582.1100 telephone
773.582.1101 facsimile
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