By Arlene Edmonds

Special to The CS&T

DREXEL HILL – Eighth grade Catholic students are concerned about global warming. More than 40 students at St. Dorothy School in Drexel Hill showcased the uses of solar energy. Another group from St. Francis of Assisi School in Norristown explored general environmental topics, while their counterparts at Nativity B.V.M. School painted and decorated water conservation barrels that have been placed in their neighborhood in Media.

All the students participated in the third Global Warming Fair held at St. Dorothy School during Earth Week recently. Science teacher Angela Brennan coordinated the event that brought together some 70 students from three schools to highlight what ordinary citizens can do to save energy. The students formed committees and came up with an assortment of ideas that can help curb the warming of the planet.

“The children all left with a better understanding of the environmental issues that we all face,” said Brennan, who began meeting with her students at St. Dorothy’s early last October for the April 22 event. “As Catholic young people they need to be responsible for the environmental gifts that we have. It is their responsibility before God to use their talents and gifts to protect the environment.”

On Earth Day the students from the different schools were able to make presentations before each other and members of the community. Among the special guests at the program was Grace Tian, PECO Energy’s marketing promotions manager, who spoke to the students about wind energy. Also, Tedman O’Hara, the borough of Media’s Environmental Action Council representative, spoke about the fact that his borough is the “solar capital” of Pennsylvania, according to state Energy Secretary Kathleen McGinty.

Some of St. Dorothy’s students worked on a survey of parishioners asking them questions such as what types of light bulbs they used in their homes and the energy efficiency of their household appliances. They then created a brochure listing some of the energy-saving tips that local residents could use in their homes. They distributed brochures to the kindergarten through seventh grade students at the school to take home and share with their families.

“The students met for the global warming projects after school every Monday,” said Brennan. “They would come to the computer lab from three to four every Monday. It was not mandatory, but I would have about 95 percent of the eighth graders show up. They even created a Wiki site where they placed the links they found on the various topics so that other students could have access to them in doing their research. It was really a positive learning experience for us all.”

Louise Sheehan, St. Dorothy’s principal, said she is particularly pleased with the cooperative effort between the schools in producing the successful fair. She pointed out that starting last year Brennan specifically targeted global warming issues affecting Pennsylvania and this has helped the students to see how the projects have meaning in their personal lives.

“It was truly a festive day,” said Sheehan. “The parents from the Home and School Association provided them with pizza, water and dessert. I am just thrilled that it was a learning experience for all the students where they focused on environmental issues close to home.

“I thought it was great that this year Ms. Brennan invited other schools to participate. Now more students are learning about global warming issues.”

Arlene Edmonds is a freelance writer and St. Raymond of Penafort parishioner. She may be reached at