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Outdoor class plants a vital seed

Science teachers at Sequoyah Middle School aren't trying to raise a generation of tree huggers, but they might be doing so regardless.

Students in Heather Cannon's seventh-grade wetlands class love the trees, bushes and vines in the 43 acres of wetlands that surround the campus of Sequoyah Middle School near Five Mile Lake.

Beginning this year, teachers at Sequoyah will use a newly built trail through the wetlands as an outdoor classroom. Teachers and parents completed the trail over the summer.

Plants are greener and fuller in the wetlands, said seventh-grader Stacey Irish.

"You learn how important it is and if you mess it up how many life forms and populations would go down," she said.

Taking care of the wetlands is important to protect animals such as woodpeckers and skunks, Irish said, adding that abundant plants add to the oxygen levels.

Seventh-grader Massimo Morbioli said wetlands class is fun because students spend class periods outdoors and learn about different plant species.

"If you're ever out in nature, you know what your surroundings are," he said, adding that students learned not to dig up plants or cut things down with chain-saws.

Anastasiya Golodyuk, also in seventh grade, said she enjoys watching the plants to see how much they grow each week.

"It's a neat thing to see the students get so invested in this," said teacher Heather Cannon. "It's neat to see them concerned about something that middle school kids normally don't care about. You'll normally see them walking down the street and picking everything in sight."

Sequoyah was built in such a way to disturb the surrounding wetlands as little as possible, Cannon said. The school is one of the only schools in the district with two stories. Some trees that were cut down during construction are used as pillars in the building.

It is important to teach children that you can be a good environmental steward and still build, Cannon said. Sequoyah Middle School is a good example of that.

"We live in a neighborhood that was originally wild," Cannon said. "Being aware of the fact that we have to protect what's left is just essential."

Students participate in the wetlands class as part of a math and science opportunity elective credit. There are wetlands classes in each grade level. Next year, the school plans to offer a community service project as part of the wetlands curriculum.

"We would hope that then as adults they would be much more conscious about what they're doing to the environment," Cannon said.

Contact Margo Horner: mhorner@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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