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Special lessons honor Earth

The winds carried blue dust across the Iron River Elementary School parking lot, Wednesday as Taylor Agamaite, Mason Lombard and Shawn Gregerson directed their students in drawing a large Earth.

The winds carried blue dust across the Iron River Elementary School parking lot, Wednesday as Taylor Agamaite, Mason Lombard and Shawn Gregerson directed their students in drawing a large Earth.

When the students finished coloring in the massive Earth with the homemade chalk, their teachers gave them free time to draw whatever they wanted nearby.

Agamaite, Lombard and Gregerson are no ordinary teachers. The three are barely taller than some of their pupils.

A strange case of shrinking teachers could be found throughout Iron River Wednesday, when all classes were taught by the fifth grade students who focused on Earth-centered activities.

Earth Day came early to the school on its late-start day, allowing the fifth grade class to take charge.

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Since it was a short day, it was a nice time for special activities for Earth Day, said everyday teacher Deb Drahos.

The 10- and 11-year-old teachers planned lessons, scheduled classes and made materials all week in anticipation for taking the teachers reins.

"It took us three days to plan and find all the materials we needed," said Wes Clark, who taught school yard cleanup.

Many fifth graders came early to set up.

The student's were split into seven groups of teachers. Lessons ranged from Earth-centered art, to cleanup, bug finding and seed planting.

The rest of the school children could chose two activities, switching classes after afternoon snack.

"It's fun to help other kids and stuff like that," said Billy Stewart, who taught art.

His student, Dorothy Collins, enjoyed the activities and her tiny teachers.

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She learned not to litter, she said.

The students painted some pretty good pictures to take home to their parents. They also painted an Earth Day mural, Stewart said.

Clark's school yard cleanup class was a success also.

The class had 20 students in each of the two sections.

Clark and his partner gave each student a bag to collect trash. Every student nearly filled their grocery store plastic garbage bag, just from the school's playground area, Clark said.

The students collected pieces of paper, plastic and glass. One even found a coffee cup.

"There's a lot of trash out there," he said.

The younger students learned about Earth Day and the environment from this activity, said DeAnna Trzynka, who taught observation tally.

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"Especially on yard cleanup because they learned how not to pollute the Earth," she said.

The anti-littering lesson will come in handy as the students age because much of the garbage found in the playground comes from older kids who visit the playground outside of school hours. Kids aren't allowed to eat on the playground during recess, said Allyscia Palomo, who taught planting.

"People should respect the world more and not litter so much -- or at all," said Claire Harvey, who also taught planting.

Iron River isn't the only school in the area celebrating Earth Day.

All students at Northern Lights Elementary School sang an Earth Day song during morning announcements Friday. Superior High School students talked about Earth Day in ecology class. Bryant Elementary School held an Earth Day Parade Friday, while Four Corners students did a school wide cleanup.

Second graders at Lake Superior Elementary School are putting on "Gonna Have an Earth Day," a play dealing with recycling, conservation and environmental issues May 4. While third graders at Great Lakes Elementary are celebrating "Earth Week" April 23-27 with visits from the Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency. The students will study different topic each week.

Anna Kurth covers education. Call her at (715) 395-5019 or e-mail akurth@superiortelegram . com.

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