The second-graders in Agnes Herrington's class at Geggie Elementary learned all about the wildfires that have devastated Australia. They watched age-appropriate videos and read about the toll the fires were taking on the country, its people and its animals.
The students wanted to do something about it, so they started a $1 snack store at the school and advertised it to other students at Geggie through a poster and group presentations.
As of last week, they had raised $240 for the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service. And they still have at least one more box of snacks to sell.
"The money from the snack store, we've turned that into math lessons on counting money," Herrington said. "We've done geography about Australia, then they've written informational paragraphs about Australia. We just weave it into everything we're doing: the math, writing, reading and social studies. You want that connection. And the best thing is they go home and talk about it."
The plight of the koalas, in particular, touched the class. One student, Amelia, filled pages with pictures of them.
"I was drawing lots of koalas. Tons of koalas," Amelia said. "They have really, really fluffy ears."
Her mother, Pam Bergfeld, came up with the idea to work with local companies to create a T-shirt out of Amelia's artwork. Sales opened Feb. 14
and, within two weeks, they had sold more than 120 shirts for a gross total of around $1,600. Proceeds, minus the cost of the shirts, will go to the Australian Red Cross.
One Eureka resident was so impressed by the class' efforts that she wrote to Amelia and donated $25.
"Amelia sat down and watched the 'learn to draw' videos and got her design perfected," Bergfeld said. "It's her handwriting on the shirt, too, lots of drafts until she got it to where she wanted. It’s
an awesome town. Everybody helps everybody."
The students have enjoyed learning about Australia and doing their part to help out. Ella S. and Elena put their knowledge to work in writing a story about the country and its animals, complete with illustrations.
Guess who they called on to draw their koalas.
"We have some fun facts and 'did you knows.' We wanted to make it because we thought, since we were learning about Australia, it would be nice," Elena said. "We had Amelia do the koalas in our book because she's really good at it."