Eaglebrook Global Days, May 5 and 6, focused on Global Climate Change, one of the most critical issues that the students will face in their lifetime. Many of the activities held throughout the day focused on global awareness and how we may lessen our contribution to the problem. During the school year, we hold inter-dorm challenges that focus on energy usage and saving water. For the first time, Global Day became Global Days. Students and staff have learned to be flexible and creative this year. Global Day was no exception. Because of heavy rain in the forecast, plans were changed and the activities that could be completed inside were held on Wednesday with the outdoor activities rescheduled for Thursday.
Global Day activities commenced on Wednesday with a focus on trash and posters. Advisee groups met and created an amazing array of trash-based costumes and clothing designs. These wild outfits were entered into a virtual Trashion Show with photos taken of each participant. If trashion design was not the student’s interest, students could design posters with a focus on the impact of global climate change. These thoughtful and informative posters were proudly displayed along the glass corridor between the Learning Center and Edward P. Evans Center for all to see on Thursday. Advisee groups are encouraged to bring their own posters into the dorms to continue to educate the staff and students regarding climate change impacts. The faculty voted on the best and most creative Trashion Show designs and posters. The movie 2020 was screened on Wednesday evening in the Assembly Area. The movie attempts to answer the question: could we solve the climate crisis today with the technology that is available today?
Thursday’s Global Day activities began with an inspirational talk by Eaglebrook School alum Peter McKillop ’73, Founder and Editor of Climate & Capital Media. Peter’s global company is a professional networking platform “dedicated exclusively to facilitating personal connections that drive climate action.” Their goal is to “foster personal and meaningful professional relationships in the new climate economy.” McKillop developed his desire to protect the environment by studying a small quadrant of land throughout the seasons while he was a student at Eaglebrook. McKillop is currently on the Eaglebrook Board of Trustees and enjoys visiting campus several times a year, though not this year, and noted significant changes in the climate since he was first a student.
The plan to take the Sixth Form rafting on a portion of the 25-mile dam-controlled section of the upper Deerfield River was waved off in the early morning of May 6. The river was just too high and moving too quickly. Everyone on the trip had several opportunities to view the fast-flowing watercourse as the busses made their way to the spot the rafts and funyaks would normally be put in. This spot was next to the east portal of the famed Hoosac Tunnel, a railroad tunnel five miles long that nearly bankrupted the Commonwealth in the immediate years after the Civil War. At least two Sixth Formers that Mr. Mariani talked to the next day mentioned that they had Googled the tunnel and were entertained by the stories of ghosts that still reside inside it and in the woods of Hoosac Mountain. Almost 200 workers lost their lives during the 25 years of construction. On this day, the worst the students suffered were a few mosquito bites.
The Sixth Form all hiked to the scenic falls partway up the mountain and the students got to sit next to the cascading water and laugh and tell stories to their friends. Lunch was where Frank and Jennifer Mooney P11, P14, were able to show their hospitality and that of their staff since they did not have the opportunity on the river. All the boys ate well back at Crab Apple headquarters as the lunch spread included hot dogs, hamburgers, garden salad, pasta salad, and brownies. They can all say they went to Florida for the day, albeit Florida, Massachusetts.
Bird habits and food sources have been significantly impacted by climate change. The local flora and insects respond to the changing weather conditions and are coming out earlier each year, while the birds migrate based on the length of the daylight. This has impacted the bird's ability to find available food. The Third Form built nesting boxes on Thursday morning. They worked with a design on paper and assembled their nesting box. They had to rely on teamwork, leadership, communication, and cooperation. These nesting boxes, in addition to being good for the environment around Eaglebrook, can be visited by current and future Third Formers. The Third Form explored the Eaglebrook woods on route to lunch at a campsite where they created and cooked sausages, eggs, potatoes, cheese, and veggie hash as well as a vegan option. Students also enjoyed traditional Eaglebrook pancakes and vegan pancakes. The Third Form returned to campus following a delicious lunch, time at the vernal pool, and enjoying being in the woods with their classmates.
The Fourth and Fifth Form had Global Day morning activities on Thursday. Scavenger hunt-style activities included: Birds and Climate Change, Canary in the Coal Mine, Tree Migration, Let the Sunshine In, Observing Changes in the Landscape, Impacts of Climate and Land Use Changes, Waste Not Want Not, Water, Water Everywhere (sometimes too much, sometimes too little), You Are What You Eat, Feel the Burn: Heating and Cooling from the Depths of the Earth, and Knowledge is Power. Other activities focused on trees, bees, maple sugaring, and more.
On Thursday afternoon, the Fourth Form went to the Deerfield River and learned how watersheds and waterways connect communities and ecosystems. Students sampled the water for benthic macroinvertebrates and explored local and invasive species. Once back on campus, the Fourth Formers were given a design challenge at Whipple Pond. Students were tasked to use old projects, recyclables, and other scavenger materials as well as natural materials to build an object which can be used to remove floating trash from Whipple Pond via a canoe. The students greatly enjoyed the opportunity to get outside and learn more about our local aquatic ecosystems.
The Fifth Form began preparing for their role as leaders at Eaglebrook next year by participating in an inspiring leadership program on Thursday afternoon. Students did a variety of activities that were designed to create teamwork while building leadership skills. One of the more challenging tasks was to build a tower out of PVC pipes that stood on the field for at least ten seconds. Another fun activity involved a spinning rope to simulate a “turnstile.” The teams had to figure out how to get through the turnstile without getting touched. If someone on the team did get touched by the rope, they had to start all over again. Only through teamwork and solid leadership would the team be successful. Sound familiar? This is certainly a message the students have been hearing, but next year these Fifth Formers will be looked to by the Underformers to lead the team.
It was a wonderful two days on campus. The weather on Thursday was beautiful and we all appreciated our time outside enjoying the onset of spring and reflecting on how important our environment, as we know it, is to us. Students often comment that they want to share and preserve this earth as it is today with future generations and that is why we celebrate Global Day, hold annual dorm electricity and water challenges, and talk about conservation and sustainability.