Fifth graders from Clear Stream Avenue, Forest Road and Shaw Avenue schools in Valley Stream District 30’s Quest Program participated in an animal advocacy project, sponsored by TeachHeart.org.
Each school submitted their projects to the Nassau County Compassionate Communities Award competition sponsored by Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers. The Shaw Avenue School team took home second place in the competition, earning $1,000 from the HEART Foundation to support future school activities, while Clear Stream Avenue and Forest Road each received a check for $250 to support their projects.
Quest is a class which challenges students in grades 3-6 with advanced-level enrichment experiences throughout the school year. With the guidance of Quest teachers Ilissa Epstein and Danielle Bonaccorso, the fifth graders from each school worked for months on their projects. Clear Stream Avenue fifth graders sought to raise awareness about puppy mills and encouraged others to adopt, not shop. Forest Road students focused their attention on animal cruelty with the goal of raising awareness of animals being used for beauty product testing and clothing. Shaw Avenue students worked on increasing recycling efforts in their building and educating others on the impact that recycling has on ocean life.
To research and better understand their missions, the classes participated in a variety of activities. Clear Stream Avenue Quest students posted posters around the building, taught lessons to younger students, took a trip to Bobby and the Strays Pet Rescue and created an assembly for their younger peers about putting an end to puppy mills. Principal John Singleton and the Clear Stream Avenue step team joined in the assembly with an original rap and routine.
With the support of On Joo, library media specialist, Forest Road Quest students participated in a schoolwide fashion show to demonstrate that you can use faux fur and pleather instead of wearing real fur and leather. They also educated parents and staff about the dangers of certain beauty products, created podcasts based on information they researched about animal cruelty and raised money for Pen Farthing, CNN Hero of 2014, who rescues dogs in Afghanistan and reunites them with soldiers who spent time with them during war.
Focusing on marine life and the planet itself, Shaw Avenue Quest students took a trip to Operation Splash in Freeport where students worked with two captains. The captains explained what happens to plastic when it enters the water. To further their mission of raising awareness, students created a schoolwide poster contest about plastic in the ocean, taught lessons to their younger peers about recycling plastic, contacted the town to get recycling bins into the school and handed out bracelets.
“I am so proud of all the students involved in these projects at Clear Stream Avenue, Forest Road and Shaw Avenue,” said Epstein. “They have empathy for all animals and have gained the understanding that knowledge is power. The students have enjoyed engaging in many different activities to promote animal welfare and have learned the importance of being passionate about something and then taking action.”