Below are the winning essays by third-, fourth- and fifth-graders in the annual Keep Evanston Beautiful essay contest:
Sarah Katherine Johnson, Oakton School,
Ms. Monica Ornelas, teacher
Keep Evanston Beautiful
One of my favorite places is the park at Oakton School. One day, I was playing there when I noticed some things. Kids were eating candy and then not throwing the wrappers away. A man was smoking a cigar and making the air smell bad. When I went home, I told my mom that I wanted to clean up my school park. That is when I started writing this essay and thinking about what kids could do to help the environment.
First, I started by taking bags to my playground and I picked up all of the trash. (The school janitor picks up, too, but it’s hard to keep up.) Any child like me can do this, too, and it will reduce pollution and make our schools a better place to be.
The next day, I went to the park with more bags but these were not just for garbage. I used them to pick up recycling, too. I put the garbage in the school trash bins and the recycling in the recycling bins at my house. Recycling helps reuse our resources.
The next day, all the garbage was cleaned up but there was still something about the playground equipment that I did not like. Underneath the slide and on the bars, there was graffiti. So I talked to my school janitor about how to remove graffiti from the playground equipment. He thought that it was a great idea and he told e to make it happen. So if you see graffiti, you should speak with your school janitor (like I did) or call the graffiti hotline in Evanston.
I had one other idea. Smoking should not be allowed on school grounds. So I sent an e-mail to the District 65 School Board members, asking them to make a rule so smoking is not allowed on our playgrounds. I hope that they agree!
In conclusion, kids can pick up garbage and recycling, use trash cans and recycling bins, talk to the right people about cleaning up graffiti, and ask adults to change the law to improve our environment.
Brooke Jaffe, Willard School,
Mrs. Robin O’Hara, teacher
Keep Evanston Beautiful
Crack! I was sitting in my backyard pulling sticks of trees and crinkling leaves. “Brooke, we have to go- your soccer game is starting soon!” my mom yelled. I darted quickly to the car, opened the door, and jumped in. We were quickly on our way.
While driving I looked out the tinted window, I saw people cutting down tons of trees to build a new shopping center. I felt bad for all of the trees. I thought that I would never hurt the environment, then, I remembered what I was doing earlier.
When we got to my soccer game, I gazed at the grass filled field and regretting my decision of destroying nature like I did earlier. I was happy when the game was over because it was time to solve my problem.
It was clear I wasn’t going to destroy nature like that again, but for the things I did destroy, I was going to plant a garden. To this day I have not hurt nature and I have planted 3 gardens which have grown wonderful tomatoes, peppers, and other great things.
Leon Godfrey, King Lab School,
Up In My Tree House
I could feel a slight breeze cooling me down from the heat. From my tree house I observed many things: the wind making the grass sway side to side, butterflies fluttering in a perfect rhythm, birds landing softly on the roof of my house. It was so quiet and peaceful. The only sound I heard was the bird chirping from the highest branch in my tree. The last thing I saw were the bees pollinating my mom’s flowers.
I was so astonished by what I saw in my own back yard.
Aaron Guard, Dewey School
Ms. Pat Cleveland, teacher
Nature’s Moments: Nature’s Lessons
I like nature a lot, so I spend a lot of time outdoors. I’ve learned some important things from nature. I’m here to tell you about some of these moments.
One day my dad was taking me to the zoo when we spotted a great heron. Nobody else spotted it until we told him or her. It was hunting for fish. But what if the fish were gone? The heron would die, all the animals that prey on it would die and so on. So I vowed not to ever kill an animal, for if I did, many more might die.
Okay, I spotted 2 lessons: 1.Everything relies on one another for survival. 2. be aware of your surroundings. You never know what you might find! Amazing, huh? But that’s not all. Here comes the next!
One day my dad was taking me to the nature center when I spotted a goose on top of a building! It was funny! I was so surprised! Though I now realize that it’s possible because geese can fly well enough. Even so, I’ll never forget that day.
The lesson is: Note the possibilities, no matter how rare they are, so you can expect the unexpected.
You see? All these important lessons also hold wonderful moments. But people are ignoring nature more and more. It’s being destroyed and forgotten. And along with it, the moments and lessons are lost. If we all help, we can save the beauty we are losing. We need to recycle paper and use less fossil fuel. We also should use reusable bags and find other ways to travel, instead of just cars, so we can prevent pollution. So do the earth a favor: Go outside, have fun… and be green!
Katherine Uttal, Kingsley School,
Mrs. Larson, teacher
Keep Evanston Beautiful
Now a days people are practically living their lives indoors and that’s because people don’t know what being outside can do for a person and to the world. For a person it can change their life forever. For the world being outdoors can save it from total destruction but since no one knows this world just goes on being destroyed. Amazing things can happen to so many people when they’re outside and this is what happened to me.
It was a sunny day. The sun hit my face in such a way I could only see if I squinted. With every step I took my sandals made small beats. I looked down to block the sun. I kicked at a few rocks that were scattered around the sidewalk. Suddenly, I heard in the bushes in front of the house I was passing by rustle. I looked up and they were shaking like an earthquake happening and right at that very moment a bird flew out and before I could even think an owl came flying out right after the bird right in front of my face.
All I could think of was wow. I mean it was amazing and it was the first time I’ve ever seen a real owl and if I were inside I would have missed it.
It was just a quick swoosh but it felt like forever. This got me to thinking more amazing things can happen to me outside and it can happen to anyone. We can save the world and have amazing things happen to us all at the same time. Did you know most of the things you can do to save the world you can do like picking up trash, planting a tree, or riding your bike to activities. So go outside and have amazing things happen to you but all the same time be a better person.
Elisabeth Kolb, Willard School,
Mrs. O’Hara, teacher
Keep Evanston Beautiful
Most animals are being kicked out of their homes, because people are building more and more houses. Some houses can be really big. Animals are the thing that changed the way I think about the environment.
Some birds, every spring, come and have babies. But their eggs keep falling down and cracking. So my dad put a piece of wood where the nest was so the eggs won’t fall down and break. Now the birds can have their babies.
I thin people should stop building on animal homes. Soon animals will have no place to live, most animals we need. I think animals have their right to have a home of their own.
Not just birds are hungry. Other animals are hungry, too. You don’t have to give them much but at least give them scraps. Animals will eat almost anything you give them. Living things need food!
You can make an animal a home. But make it a safe one. Animals can’t just always make a home. You can make a home and they can find it.
Lots and lots of animals need your help. Give them food. Make a home. And give them space. Help the animals.
Zihan Xiong, Orrington School
We all love our planet Earth but sometimes we are hurting our own planet. We create pollution by using big factories that thins the ozone layer. We have many ways to help protect the Earth for future generations but we have to use them more often.
First, we should recycle and reuse. When we do that, we save trees and don’t build up trash that is bad for the ground. Some trash is bad for the ground because they don’t decompose as fast. You can save water by taking a shower instead of a bath. You can also save water by fixing leaking faucets and turning off water when you are not using it.
Second, we shouldn’t litter because it is just bad for the ground. Plus animals are going to die because they encountered it. Because of things liked spilled oil, many birds have died.
Third, we don’t have to ride cars as much. Instead we could walk, scooter, or bicycle and get more exercise. When you are outside, you breathe more fresh air. Being outside is better for your lungs than being in an enclosed area without fresh air. When you exercise, you can be healthier. Cars make pollution so it thins the ozone layer and if you don’t ride a car, you save money for gasoline and you help with not making any pollution.
You can be greener when you plant trees and a garden. If you plant trees, you are going to release more oxygen into the atmosphere. Planting a garden will also release more oxygen into the atmosphere and save gas by eating your own food instead of food in a grocery store, which uses gas to be delivered.
Finally, if we use windmill and solar panels, and no dams, then we would have a better world. Windmills and solar panels save electricity and use wind/sun. Wind and sun are all provided by nature. That is what we should do to help.
Those are some ways to help protect Earth for future generations. In order to help earth we should be greener and reuse.
Elizabeth Royse, Orrington School,
Ms. Wahle, teacher
Being outdoors has taught me that being outside can be a lot more fun than being inside and playing video games all day! Also it’s a LOT healthier for the environment.
There are a lot of ways to help the environment. For example, try not to use cars too much, try using a bike if you can. Cars cause a lot of pollution but bikes don’t, so it’ll be good to use a bike because it won’t pollute! Another way to help the environment is to recycle everything that is allowed to be recycled! If you recycle, it reuses things instead of putting things in a big pile of junk (when you throw it in the garbage), so recycle everything you can!!! Also, if you’re done with a room, TURN EVERYTHING OFF! Wasting energy is NOT good, so make sure you turn everything off when you’re done with a room. Also, if you’re done with one electronic, turn that off, too.
Lastly, don’t use electronics all day! Go outside a lot, it can be fun! If you use electronics all day, it pollutes but if you go outside, you don’t pollute at all (unless you are using electronics outside)! If just 10 more people decided to do this, earth would be a much healthier place.
If you ever get a chance to do these things, please do! Then Earth could be healthier, and people might live longer and stop getting sick because the air we breathe won’t be polluted.
Isaac Magnuson, Orrington School
Ms. Wahle, teacher
What We Can Learn From Being Outside
Humans are weird. If you think about it, we really don’t need all the space we use. We could just give some of it to plants and animals for them to live in it. Plants and animals don’t fight with nuclear weapons, but humans do. Have you ever seen a moose hijacking a truck on the interstate? No, you haven’t. Well, you probably haven’t. Have you ever seen a tree spray painting a wall? Probably not. Plants and animals just don’t do those things. Many people think that humans are smarter than all other creatures, but are we really? I think we can learn from plants and animals, by observing them and trying to do what they do, and then people would be more like animals. That is why I think we should be outside more. Because we really aren’t the dominant creature and we can learn from plants and animals, the wiser creatures.