PS 29 John M. Harrigan School | 425 Henry St | Brooklyn, NY 11201 | (718) 330-9277800-123-456

Student’s Voice at PS 29


Back in January, Ms. Monica’s 4th grade class began weekly meetings with Allie Cashel from the Service Learning Project (SLP).  A Brooklyn-based civic engagement program, SLP works in partnership with schools to help children and teens become active citizens. Student-driven at every step, the SLP model begins with students selecting a social problem to help solve. Ms. Monica’s class considered many important issues that affect our school and city but, in the end, chose to tackle an international crisis: deforestation.

The next step was for the class to become experts on the topic. Although they were instinctively passionate about trees, there was much to learn about deforestation including why forests are cleared, what is the impact, and what can be done to lessen its destruction. Over several weeks, the students gathered information through internet research, met with an expert in the field from Our Climate US, and participated in a statewide advocacy art project, which was delivered to the State House in Albany on Earth Day.

They discovered that even though deforestation happens in countries and forests far from home, local individuals, schools, and businesses can take steps to reduce its impact.  They were thrilled to learn, for example, about everyday decisions PS 29 makes to protect the environment, including comprehensive recycling of trash and purchasing of recycled school supplies. But they were determined to have an impact beyond our community.

Using their new expertise, the students created this Advocacy Packet (LINK) to share with decision makers throughout District 15 and inspire other Brooklyn schools. And they did not stop there! They also wrote letters to American companies who have not taken a clear stand against deforestation, asking them to take the UN Pledge to help end deforestation around the world. Companies who take the pledge commit to halfing their use of wood over the next two years and eliminating it all together by 2030.

In addition to becoming avid defenders of the environment, Ms. Monica’s class learned how to collect and analyze research, advocate through text and illustration, and work effectively as a team. Equally important, they discovered firsthand how much everyone, no matter their age, can play an important role in improving the world around them.