Christine Mesiano’s 5th and 6th grade class at Pineland Learning Center created a project that brings awareness to the growing dangers of discarded plastic in the world’s oceans, which has been published on the Plastic Oceans Foundation’s website, a leading global environmental group.
Pineland is a private special education school for students ages five through 21 from six southern New Jersey counties.
The students created a large, three-dimensional wall display about the growing problem of plastic in the ocean, naming it the “Hall of Change.”
The students offered guided tours through their “Hall of Change” and helped impact other students and teachers to help foster a positive change in the world. They also provided bins to deposit plastic bags to bring to stores for recycling.
“The staff feels fortunate to work in a school that allows this creative approach to teaching and gives opportunities to students to be involved in actions that motivate them to reach beyond the everyday routine of learning,” said Mesiano. “When students are engaged like this, the possibilities are endless for growth both academically and behaviorally.”
In addition to being recognized by Plastic Oceans, each student was awarded a Certificate of Congratulations by Vineland Mayor Anthony Fanucci in a ceremony at city hall.
“These students and their school reflect how exceptional teaching and a supportive atmosphere can bring students once thought to be problems to a level of achievement our city can be proud of,” Fanucci said.
Since the project, Pineland has switched from disposable plastic cups to paper ones, placed recycling cans throughout the school, and continued to collect plastic bags to return to grocery stores. Finally, on the elementary students’ year-end trip to Ocean City, the 5th and 6th grade class volunteered in a beach cleanup.