On Campus

EcoBash—an EcoBlast!: Fourth annual earth party now a day-long event

The first Eco Bash in April 2016 was a two-hour Friday afternoon assembly with a guest speaker, live performances, and several interactive booths. But on Wednesday, April 10, when the Upper School (US) celebrated its fourth annual Eco Bash, it had become a day-long event with 49 unique workshops along with a keynote speaker, booths, snacks, and activities. 

The Eco-Reps, a group of 19 students led by four faculty advisors who all strive to promote environmental awareness and responsibility, organized and ran the day. From the early planning stages, the group’s goal was to make the event educational and fun, English Teacher and Eco-Reps head faculty advisor Ariel Duddy said.

“I first wanted to make sure the students learned more about the environment, but we also wanted to have them enjoy the experience of caring for the environment,” Ms. Duddy said. “Eco Bash won’t happen again if kids feel like it was boring or teachers think it was a waste of a school day.” 

To achieve this goal, the Eco-Reps decided to start the day with guest speaker Bob Massie P ’16, an environmental activist and politician who also spoke at the first-ever Eco Bash. Mr. Massie spoke for 40 minutes about the severe problems and the social and political implications of climate change, weaving in jokes and pop culture references from Disney movies. Afterward, he fielded questions from the audience for 20 minutes.

 “I thought the speech was very informative on current issues surrounding climate change,” Cece Garvey ’21 said. “I feel like it definitely helped raise awareness about climate change.”

Following the talk, students returned to the Commons to visit tables presenting eco-friendly food and drinks from local vendors, including loaves from Iggy’s Bread, drink samples from Maple Mama, and chips from Mi Niña Chips. In addition to food, vendors also brought eco-friendly products like non-toxic skincare from Follain, a clean beauty company, and wool dryer balls from LooHoo. Meanwhile, students and teachers ran activity-centered stations, ranging from a national parks trivia stop to a petition for a rooftop garden by an AP Spanish class.

US students were not the only ones browsing booths: some Lower School (LS) students also visited for part of the day to present eco-related projects and participate in the activities. The fourth grade, which studied sustainability for months, attended the Eco Bash for the fourth year running, along with 10 older LS students in the Environment Initiative Club. 

Several booths showcased student work, including a bike that generates electricity when pedaled and the Green Thumb Initiative to have more plants in LS spaces and create prototypes aimed at renewable energy solutions on the LS campus. 

After 35 minutes exploring booths, students headed off to their first of two workshops or, for those who selected an activity requiring more time, their only workshop of the day. 

A few weeks before Eco Bash, the Eco-Reps sent out a Google Form asking students to choose their top three workshops for each session, identify three friends they would like with them, and prioritize either friends or workshops in the scheduling. The Eco Reps tried to ensure that those who chose ‘friends’ would be with at least one friend per workshop and those who chose ‘workshops’ would land one of their choices for both sessions.

Eco-Reps, faculty, and student and parent volunteers created and ran workshops, with variety in the offerings being another goal for this year’s Eco Bash, US Arts Department Head and Eco-Reps faculty advisor Laura Tangusso said.

“One of the themes for this year’s Eco Bash is how the environmental crisis really touches upon so many other areas in life. It affects the economy, health, agriculture, and so much more,” Ms. Tangusso said. “[By] having a wide range of topics, we hoped there would be something of interest and relevance for everyone.”

US English Teacher Zoe Balaconis created a lighthearted Advanced Tree Climbing workshop that encouraged both play and an understanding of trees’ importance. 

“It’s easy to just ignore trees when walking by and under them,” Ms. Balaconis said. “The more aware and thoughtful we are about trees, the more thoughtful we can be in making decisions—about the environment, the policies we support, and our day-to-day lives.”

Other sessions sent students biking along the Charles River and bird-watching in the Cambridge Cemetery. 

Zoey Liu ’22 said she enjoyed learning and eating in the Quick Pickles, Preserves and Garden Treats workshop led by US Woodworking Teacher Paul Ruhlmann.

“It was definitely better than a regular class,” Zoey said.

After each Eco Bash, the Eco-Reps begin thinking about the future of the event. For Eco-Rep Faculty Advisor and US Ceramics Teacher Christian Tonsgard, the future of Eco Bash is expansion. 

“Last year the goal was to have Eco Bash touch as much of the BB&N community as possible—this year I think we got pretty close,” he said. “My hope is that next year we can make Eco Bash a schoolwide event that includes the Upper, Middle, and Lower schools.”

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