Charter school celebrates Earth Nite

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It is sometimes darn convenient being next to nature.

Pittsburgh's 561-acre Frick Park is both backyard and sometime-classroom for the Imagine Environmental Charter School, begun this year in the former Regent Square School, 829 Milton St.

And as the school's curriculum and teachers delve into the wider world of environment and our impact on it, the park helps bring it all home for its students, who number 262 in grades kindergarten through third.

On Earth Day, Wednesday, the students will help show what they know by linking with the community in a free family event called Earth Nite, featuring demonstrations, story-telling and more from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Featuring three stations at which people can learn environmentally friendly practices, the evening is open to the public and best enjoyed by families with children, says Shannon Merenstein, an art teacher at the school who, with environmental specialist Nikole Brugnoli Sheaffer, organized the evening.

"We really try to involve ourselves in the community as much as we can, especially being a brand new school," says Ms. Merenstein.

At one station, attendees can decorate repurposed containers from Creative Use Pittsburgh and plant seedlings in them.

At a second, a chef from Point Brugge restaurant in Point Breeze will show how to prepare a salad dressing from local ingredients. There also will be samples from the indoor sprout farm, Mung Dynasty of the South Side.

"And we will have a parent teaching about packing an environmentally friendly lunch -- reusable containers and that kind of thing," says Ms. Merenstein.

"And at the third station will be a storyteller telling some Earth-related folk tales."

That would be Mother Nature, says Mrs. Brugnoli Sheaffer, who adds that a play with an environmental theme, written and acted by students, will be performed.

As an example of the kinds of environment-related endeavors the children pursue at the school, she said second-graders did an audit of school waste and found most of it comes from the cafeteria.

As a result, packing a waste-free lunch in containers that can be washed and reused seemed a natural endeavor.

Also on exhibit will be students' work from their environmental curriculum classes.

For more information, contact the school at 412-247-7970.


Margi Shrum can be reached at mshrum@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3027.


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