Herman L. Horn Elementary School held its annual Earth Day Celebration on April 23. There were choruses, a recycling fashion contest, prizes, awards, and special guests. Principal Peggy Stovall welcomed everyone to the assembly in the school cafeteria.
One of the special guests was Judy Loope from the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke, who introduced Education Ambassador Captain Hook, a broad-winged hawk, to the student body. Although the bird was tethered, she asked the students to be very quiet so as not to make him skittish during her presentation.
Loope explained to the students that the wildlife center, founded in 2000, is a hospital for wild animals native to Virginia who have been injured or orphaned. The goal is to return the animals to good health through rehabilitation and release them back into the wild. Virginia state law prohibits wild animals from being kept as pets.
Captain Hook is an exception as he is unable to survive on his own in the wild, being blind in his left eye and unable to hunt. He visits schools, libraries, and other groups to educate the public about wildlife, emphasizing the care and preservation of native species.
He is a raptor— a bird of prey— with sharp talons, a sharp beak, and sharp eyesight. The bird is helpful because he eats rodents. He is unusual in that he has a talon growing out of his neck.
Loope cautioned the students to always “watch wildlife from a distance” as they see humans as predators and will defend themselves. If children see a wild animal that appears to be injured, they should call someone for assistance.
During the program, teacher Amanda Lusk introduced the Recycling Court made up of third, fourth and fifth grade SCA members. Students spend a great deal of time making costumes from recyclables and participate in a runway parade during the Earth Day assembly. Judges choose a king and queen.
Participants this year included: Isabella Trumble as Ms. Trash-tastick, Maggie Zimmerman as Miss Maggie Debris, Scottie Leonard as Trashinrina, Emily Glass as Miss Pepa, Brogan Dent as Box Bot, Elena Mullen as Gorgeous Garbage Girl, Dakota Vaughan as Recycle Man, Jada Johnson as the Trash Fairy, and Colter Dean as Bubble Boxer, Defender of the Royal Court.
Elena Mullen was selected Queen; Dakota Vaughan was named Recycling King.
Lusk urged students to observe Earth Day each day by “reducing, reusing, and recycling.”
Teacher Jaime Walsh led the Glee Bee Chorus. The SCA performed a song as well.
Instructional Assistant Laurel Skinner, who organized and facilitated this year’s Earth Day celebration, introduced the winners of the STEM recycling contest whose projects were on display in the hallways of the school. The winner of the Litter Bug contest was Aaron Hill. Winners of the Trash Robot competition were Elizabeth Maldonado and Hayden Davis.
Skinner also announced the winners of the classroom Earth Day Door Contest. First place went to teacher Betsey Miles and her students. Her class chose extra recess as their prize. Second place went to teacher Madison Boothe; her class won a pizza party donated by New York Pizza in Vinton. Third place was awarded to teacher Megan McCoy; her class will receive an ice cream party.
Vinton Mayor Brad Grose and his wife Debby were also guests at the Earth Day celebration.
In his remarks, Mayor Grose told students that the Town of Vinton celebrates Earth Day every day with its recycling program. He said that Vinton was the first town in Virginia to establish its own curbside recycling program many years ago.