Earth Day 2024: Giving Back to Our Community, Rain or Shine

While this year’s Earth Day had rain in the forecast, the Vermont Academy community didn’t let the weather dampen the day. The spirit of sunny Earth Day celebrations in years past was infused by moving several outdoor activities indoors, and all of the fun was still maintained. Director of Place-Based Learning and Environmental Studies Christine Armiger led our community in several activities across campus for the day. The kickoff to the celebration began Wednesday evening with a bonfire, s'mores, volleyball, and music at the Nick Grout '03 Memorial Fire Pit in lieu of study hall.
The following morning began with a pancake breakfast in Shepardson Dining Center with Vermont Academy’s own maple syrup. Afterward, the community gathered in the Nita Choukas Theater in  Horowitz Performing Arts Hall for a special community meeting that included land acknowledgments from Head of School Dr. Jennifer L. Zaccara and VA Counselor Liem Berman, a showing of a short film from the 2023 Long Trail trip courtesy of trip co-leader and VA faculty member Petar Vujicic, and an overview of the day’s events. Proving the community doesn’t need the sun to have fun, following the meeting event teams met outside and embarked on their first activity for the day. Morning activities included gardening around campus, wood splitting, working the clothing exchange in Shepardson Dining Center, food prep, and stage setup for afternoon performances, among others. A large part of the morning was dedicated to helping the greater community in Saxtons River, helping neighbors in need, volunteering at Main Street Arts, helping preserve artifacts at the Saxtons River Historical Society, helping out at the Montessori School, doing clean-up work at the Saxtons River Rec Center, and more.

After working up an appetite, the community was treated to a delicious barbecue lunch featuring pork roasted by former long-time VA maintenance staffer Eddie Mack, and a maple syrup and ice cream bar courtesy of the popular Chester sugar house Sugar Bob’s Finest Kind and the Walpole Creamery. Afterward, the students and teachers of the Saxtons River Elementary School joined us for a special visit from the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum for a live animal presentation. The audience watched as the wildlife handler brought a red-tailed hawk, a snake, a turtle, an opossum, and a barred owl through the Nita Choukas Theater. The audience  oohed and ahhed at the native Vermont creatures while asking questions and learning all about them.

The fun continued with afternoon activities such as yoga, jewelry making, rock climbing, ultimate frisbee, tie-dyeing, indoor “sidewalk chalk”, Iron Chef competitions, a robotics demo, and more. Performing Arts Chair Steve Cady’s music department provided the soundtrack for the day with live performances from students. Earth Day 2024 was a great day of festivities that represented togetherness, care for our community, and celebration of the planet we inhabit.

See photos from the day on Flickr here.
Vermont Academy is a coed college preparatory boarding and day school in southern Vermont, serving grades 9-12 plus a postgraduate year.