A grassroots campaign for the acorns
Dear Editor:Last spring, a small patch of trees and boulders was removed from the Aspen Elementary School playground to facilitate access to the middle school construction areas. When the students returned in the fall, they were disappointed to find that the Acorn Forest, as they named it, was gone. During a pre-writing activity, I had the students brainstorm issues and concerns that they felt strongly about. The Acorn Forest elicited the most emotional responses. They really missed it. When told to choose one of their concerns and write a persuasive letter to someone who might be able to help in that particular situation, several students wrote to Doreen Goldyn, AES principal. They asked her to help them get the trees replaced.They wrote intelligently, passionately and convincingly. They expressed environmental concerns. They gave aesthetic reasons. They provided viable solutions and most convincing of all, they shared personal memories of their times in the Acorn Forest during recess. They were concerned that future grades would never have a chance to experience the Acorn Forest. They were worried that the natural habitat and food source for insects and squirrels had been destroyed. They argued that the trees provided shade on hot days, shelter on rainy and windy days and warmth on snowy days. They even offered to raise money to buy trees.One student, Judd Hawk, met with representatives from GE Johnson Construction Co. and read his letter at a construction meeting. He asked them to consider replacing the Acorn Forest. Students in grades 2, 3 and 4 rallied and wrote more than 300 persuasive letters asking their principal to meet with GE Johnson to get trees planted. She brought the students’ letters to the construction meetings. GE Johnson’s representatives read the letters, took the matter under consideration and has agreed to plant trees to create a natural area on the playground.I want to thank Principal Doreen Goldyn, Superintendent Diana Sirko and GE Johnson Construction Co. for taking the students’ writing seriously by reading their letters and agreeing to plant trees on the playground. It was an authentic writing assignment that taught my young writers the power of well-crafted, persuasive writing. It was a good lesson for them to learn that kids can make a BIG difference in their world. Thanks to all my students who discovered their awesome writers’ voices. I’m so proud of your efforts!Dee SearingWriting specialistAspen Elementary School
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No official vote has taken place, but the Dillon Town Council has decided to push forward with an ordinance at a future meeting despite a contentious debate that clearly divided council members on the issue.