By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer
Who would expect 500 birds crowded in a gymnasium all at one time? Mice, maybe. Definitely not rats. But birds?
You wouldn’t expect it and maybe you wouldn’t believe it would be possible. You probably shouldn’t.
Five hundred noisy birds off all different kinds could never cooperate with each other - in a gymnasium, of all places. After all, some birds quack and others honk, hoot or squawk.
They would never agree on anything largely because they have only very tiny brains, as everyone knows. Their feathers are easily ruffled.
But Artman Elementary School students wearing headpieces Friday identifying them as owls, ducks, ruffed grouse and bald eagles could and did cooperate (mostly) during Earth Fest.
They had lots of reasons to do so.
The celebration’s mix of songs, hand clapping, foot stomping and a slide show drove home the lesson that plants, animals, water and air need everyone to cooperate for the future of the planet we all live on.
Nancy Bires, their teacher, and a Green Team of older students conducted the program to wind up the annual festival that ran all week long.
Students in kindergarten through third grade worked on projects to improve the school’s nature trail.
They decorated 1,000 paper grocery bags with messages urging using less and saving more energy and other steps everyone should take to become energy stars, not energy wasters.
Shoppers at D’Onofrio’s Food Center are encouraged to use the bags over and over and over.
The kids plunked pennies into pots for Project Puffin. The long-term effort is reintroducing the cute and colorful seabirds on Easter Egg Rock, an island off the coast of Maine.
Before the successful project began in 1973, puffins had been hunted for meat and feathers and their population was depleted more than a century ago.
“Habitat,” one of the songs Bires sang made the simple point for students that clean water, clean air and less wasteful use of fossil fuels are essential to the animals, plants and people who “have to have a habitat to carry on.”