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Earth Day emphasis on education

Patrick McCartney

The 20 students of Linda Martin’s third-grade class rehearsed the showcase song of their Earth Day play at Tahoe Valley Elementary School Tuesday, singing the environmental theme with gusto.

“We are the ones who can make it happen! We are the ones who can make it right,” they sang in unison. “It’s up to us; it’s not too late to try. Every day is Earth Day.”

The lyric may be more true at Lake Tahoe than most places. While the public’s ardor for the annual environmental event may have cooled over the years, Lake Tahoe’s environment has received attention practically every day since last year’s Lake Tahoe Presidential Summit.

“I’m sure we are the envy of many communities,” said Pam Drum, a spokeswoman for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. “At Lake Tahoe, we have a delightfully informed public. They constantly show a willingness to learn more about how to protect the environment.”

One public event is planned today at Lake Tahoe in observance of Earth Day. Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village will host the “Watershed Exploratorium,” a presentation of strategies for preserving Lake Tahoe’s famed clarity. More than 30 public agencies will sponsor educational exhibits, and presentations on Lake Tahoe’s environment will be made on the hour from 3 to 7 p.m.

On the South Shore, Earth Day activities are limited to the schools, including the elementary school play and field exercises by students at South Tahoe High School.

High school students will pitch in today to pick up trash around town, stencil cautionary messages on curbs at storm drains, and collect used batteries to recycle.

Jamie Greenough, South Tahoe’s science teacher, said the school’s curriculum emphasizes environmental issues throughout the year.

“It’s Earth Day all year long at South Tahoe High,” Greenough said.

But it’s up to Martin’s third-graders to add a festive touch to the South Shore’s Earth Day activities. At Tuesday’s dress rehearsal, kindergarten students from Cynthia Horn’s and Cathy Hardman’s classes clapped, cheered and swayed to the music as the students performed four musical numbers and recited environmental poetry.

“When a tree falls in the forest, do we hear it?” they sang. “Do we care?”

Martin said the students have prepared for Earth Day by studying environmental issues for the past month. They are drilled on their new Three R’s – Reduce, Re-use and Recycle.

The students will gain firsthand knowledge of the environment by making their own terrarium. And on Monday, the students toured South Tahoe Refuse’s material recovery facility, where they watched a crew sort household trash, removing items to recycle.

“You can make all kinds of stuff,” said Greg Anthony, 8, of South Lake Tahoe. “There was a basketball that was perfectly good.”

During rehearsal, scenic pictures of Lake Tahoe were projected on a screen behind the students as they sang the “Recycle Rap.”

“Listen up, friends, you’ve got to help with our plan,” they exclaimed. “Or we could all be livin’ in a garbage can.”

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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