An Interview with Students at Champlain Elementary School

Students use a report card to assess their neighborhood for quality of life issues such as access to
“It’s a different type of learning. You can learn reading, math, social studies or science, but if you’re learning to better your community... we should learn about these things because if we don’t respect this, our environment could be gone."

An Interview with the Students

with Susan Bonthron, Vermont Community Works–SSP's documentation partner

Briana is a fourth grader at Champlain Elementary “We’ve been going around and searching through places like Pine and Howard and St. Paul and seeing what’s going on. There’s a lot of graffiti there, and no cans for garbage. So we’ve been talking in our groups, getting into our groups on Friday, and we can only pick one project we can do. We haven’t picked it out yet, but there are a lot of things we want to do. But we can’t go on people’s property. And people have been throwing their cigarette butts and wrappers and things on the ground. So I think we’re going to do trash cans. We’ll have to get money to buy trash cans and so we can put them everyplace we find garbage a lot. There’s only one big big dumpster, and it’s across the street.”

Anna is a fifth grader “We changed our idea. First we were going to have a Greenup day every other month, but we decided against that because we looked around our neighborhood, and there really wasn’t that much trash to clean up that often. But there’s a little area that has a stream running through it, that’s woodsy. And we found lots of trash in there and we’re going to clean it up. And there are broken down trees across the stream, and we want to make them more usable to cross the stream. We might get boards to lay them across. And there’s a path that needs cleaning up. So our project would be making one area more fun to be in. So if it is prettier and nicer, maybe more kids and adults would like to go in there and take walks.”

“It’s a different type of learning. You can learn reading, math, social studies or science, but if you’re learning to better your community... we should learn about these things because if we don’t respect this, our environment could be gone.

Briana: “I think this is important work to do. Because if we didn’t do it, it would be all dirty, no one could play in it, no one could use it, and people would be stepping on things, and it would be smelly. It would be safer and nicer if we do this project. We’re learning that when things are not doing well we should fix them, even if we’re not in our groups, we can still help our neighborhood. If we see something bad in our neighborhood, we can come to school and tell them. We know how to fix things when they go wrong.”

Anna: “Yes, it’s important because even though it’s not near my house, because there are kids and families that are there, and if we do this work we’d want to go there and use this place. As another part of our project we’re going to contact some of the people who run the streams, because it is really polluted, and we’re going to try to do something about the pollution. Some of the girls and boys live right near it, and they tested the water for a wetlands study this year, because there’s living things in it. It’s all part of the life cycle, and things need to eat it. Even though it’s a small stream and a small place in the world, it affects our ecosystem. If everybody’s going there to use it, you can build a sense of community and get to know other people. We’ve learned that everybody can play a part in it. I could never think that I could have a big impact, and you see people on tv and leaders doing this, but if you pitch in everybody counts, and it can give you a sense of pride.

“I think that everybody feels good about it, even if they don’t recognize it. I think sometimes they feel like they don’t really care, or that they could do something better with their time. But I think everybody knows that it’s good, even if they don’t present it with their body language.”

Briana: “Some people in our group like to sit around not doing anything. I think one thing is they won’t call on them because they’re talking too much, or they don’t have any good ideas. I think maybe people don’t listen to them. If people think we’re not working, we are because we’re talking about what we’re going to do.”

Anna: “It’s a different type of learning. You can learn reading, math, social studies or science, but if you’re learning to better your community... we should learn about these things because if we don’t respect this, our environment could be gone. You might be the smartest kid in your class, but you might not be making a difference. Tests don’t tell you everything. Everyone has to do their part.”

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