April 22, 2022
A weeklong celebration of Earth Day brought guest speakers to Cheshire Academy, and provided students with opportunities to give back to the local community and learn ways to protect the environment.
On Tuesday, April 19, The Coleman Group and Sustainability leaders hosted a “Women in Green” panel discussion. Speakers included Michelle Hughes ’11, operations and impact director at National Young Farmers Coalition; Megan Kacenski, arborist representative with Bartlett Tree Experts; Rachel Margolese, engineering and operations at Plankton Energy; Alejandra Perez-Pla ’06, chief investment officer with Mutual Empathy; and Katie Symonds, senior project architect at JCJ Architecture. The women spoke to female students about how they became interested in their fields of work, and how to ensure their voices are heard in male-dominated professions.
A kickoff celebration of Earth Day on April 20 included conversations around social, economic, and environmental injustices. Sharon Lewis and Simran Kaur Ladhad from the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental and Economic Justice were the day’s keynote speakers, providing a brief history of the origins of Earth Day and how people today can make the most positive and meaningful impacts to protecting themselves, their friends and family, and the planet.
Lewis spoke deeply about the dangers that recycling facilities, highways, wastewater treatment plants, and landfills create for people living nearby. She said many property owners surrounding such areas are Black, Indigenous, and people of color, and physically suffer because of fumes, such as methane from trash in uncapped landfills. Lewis herself lives close to an interstate offramp and said many of her neighbors have battled cancer due to poor air quality.
“We are saving the Earth, but at what cost?” Lewis asked CA students. “Who is really bearing the burden of what we are doing?”
Following Lewis and Ladhad’s presentation, students broke out into smaller groups to attend a variety of workshops. Programs included:
- Joining Jim Jinks, founder and executive director of the local nonprofit Bike Cheshire, for an outing on the Farmington Canal Linear Trail
- Learning about racial inequity with Michelle Hughes ’11 and the impacts the food industry has on the planet and climate change with students Hadixha Bella ’22, Ava Capuano ’23, Tyler Lin ’23, Aishlinn Parrinello ’23, and Amelia Williams ’22
- Traveling to a local farm to remove invasive species from the property
- Visiting Keney Park in Windsor, Connecticut, to learn about aquaponics and hydroponics
A plant-powered lunch was served in the Gideon Welles Dining Commons, and guest speakers were present to talk about the environment.
Parrinello also presented on Thursday, April 21 to students in several science courses about the realities of climate change and the climate crisis. Parrinello stressed the importance of making changes in daily routines, such as by using renewable energy, investing in energy-efficient appliances, reducing waste, and more. She said her generation and the one that follows will be the ones who feel the effects of climate change the most.
On Friday, April 22, Parrinello led a field trip to the Connecticut State Capitol building for the Earth Day Climate Strike.
Photos from the week’s events can be found on our Flickr photo gallery.