Living Green: Jacobson School spreads message of easy sustainability
by Christina Frankel
May 25, 2012 | 2243 views | 1 1 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On April 26, there was an Earth Day celebration at Jacobson Elementary.

Started two years ago by first-grade teacher Rowena Isip, the event was filled with innovative and simple earth-friendly activities. Held in the evening to involve parents, the event started in the gym with activities, a scavenger hunt, and an earth pledge, and culminating with a bike race.

Under Ms. Isip’s leadership and the commitment of the Green Club students and parents, the Jacobson Earth Day event was, in my mind, a huge success.

The event was simple in its message, creative with its approach and well-rounded in its efforts to spread the message that stewardship can be commonplace.

Angelica Turner, a parent volunteer was manning one activity table, helped 5-year-old Milo Porter make a bracelet. Milo was eager to shake the glitter onto the doubled-sided tape, which in turn was added to rings from cut-up water bottles.

Although Milo was not totally taken with his sparkly water bottle-turned-bracelet — explaining that it “tickled” — he carefully added it to his prized pile of completed activities. After getting a tattoo, planting a flower and making a bird feeder from milk cartons, Milo confirmed he had “liked it all” with a big smile, and scanned the gym for the next activity.

Another table was busy with parents and kids filling in a “Wild about Earth Day” coloring book, donated by the city of Tracy.

One table was overflowing with empty cardboard containers of flattened Cheerios and Captain Crunch cereal boxes. The cardboard was shaped to make old-fashioned fans held by tongue depressors as well cut into for picture frames. Ingenuity came from the folds of the boxes acting as built-in easels for the frames.

At the pledge table, students were asked to write a commitment to the Earth on a white board. Then Ms. Isep took a picture of the student in front of a painted picture of the Earth to show the school their pledge.

Maria Turner’s pledge was to “not leave the water running.” Maria is part of Ms. Isep’s school-based Peak Club.

Conner Porter, 9 years old, explained that the green club was a great place to learn about recycling and that it was a “great thing for children to sign up.” Conner was also a representative of the student site council and had big plans to be president or VP next year.

At one table, students got their hands dirty planting flower seeds. Using Jiffy peat pots and soil starter discs that expanded in water, students were taught how easy gardening was.

The scavenger hunt enticed students to find different things on their school campus with a list of what to look for, like “something that had branches but no leaves,” or “something that a bird could eat,” or “picking up five pieces of garbage.”

They were also asked how many items could be recycled.

The I Spy exercise trained awareness that would sharpen students’ focus of their everyday surroundings when it comes to being earth-friendly.

The bike race afterwards completed the event. Held on the playground with simple cones delineating the track, students counted how many laps they could complete.

With parents observing and helmets required, kids bantered, giggled and whooped around the track. Students could stop at any time, reinforcing that any activity is better than none and that all should participate regardless of ability level.

It was a great event.

Not only did it celebrate awareness and education, it more importantly showed how simple sustainability can become.

For a change: Plant from seeds. There is nothing more nurturing than planting a seed, watering it daily and seeing how it grows. The patience it takes to grow something teaches us that everything we eat comes from somewhere, is grown by someone and takes more time than we are aware.

To make a difference: Take an I Spy look at the world when you are out and about. Count how many things you see that are garbage, and how many could have been recycled? If you hit more than five in an hour, or one place, you understand that it takes all of us to make the commitment.

To make a stand: What about a community wide Earth Day event next year? It’s time for Tracy to show its Think-Inside-the-Green-Triangle involves sustainability as well. If you have ideas, let me know. In the short term, sign-up for the Cool California Challenge as Tracy residents compete against nine other communities to see who is the most sustainable! Sign-up at

• Christina D.B. Frankel has lived in Tracy for more than 22 years and is an architect and mother of three. Her column, Living Green, runs every so often in the Tracy Press. She can be reached at
Comments-icon Post a Comment
May 29, 2012
Wouldn't a "community-wide Earth day" generate too much trash? Isn't it enough to just communicate the philosophy of "sustainability"?

Also, why encourage citizens to compete against other communities in an effort to promote sustainability? I don't think the ethic of the Earth's sustainability as dictated by humans ought to be fostered by competition.

Is human obesity a manifestation of sustainability?

There are many socioeconomic forces (persons in particular positions) in this country that welcome the predicted increase of obesity over the next couple of decades.

There is a spiritual crisis in this country; this is the real sustainability issue.

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