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The Secret Classroom

8 April 2021
Maddy W, Hope ‘21
After a long and rainy winter, the sun is finally shining upon Mill Bay and the Brentwood campus, and cries can be heard from far and wide of students begging to have class or advisor meetings outside. Mr McCarthy of the AP Environmental Science 12 class has enthusiastically undertaken the task of responding to these whinging complaints through an exciting, outdoor, end-of-year project!

What better way to learn about the environment than to be immersed in it completely? After acing the AP exam in May, the Environmental Science students will have the amazing opportunity to “go out and enjoy the sunshine while putting all that we have learned to practical use in our own school garden” explains Sydney H, Mack ‘21. Dealing with a class of restless Grade 11s and 12s suffering from serious cases of senioritis, Mr McCarthy has hit it out of the park with this unique project to keep his students engaged, learning, and having fun during the last few months of the school year.

“Working in cohorts, we hope to build four different gardening projects” Mr McCarthy pitches the project to the class, “one group will be working on how to successfully build a compost pile, another will work to increase pollination, a third will develop vegetable garden beds, and a fourth will likely be doing an aquaponics project.”

In case you have not had the pleasure of reaping the benefits of Mr McCarthy’s wealth of knowledge, aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture, growing fish and other aquatic animals, and hydroponics, growing plants without soil. Aquaponics uses these two in a symbiotic combination in which plants are fed the aquatic animals' discharge or waste.

This project not only educates and engages the students, but we also hope to give back to our community by donating most of our harvested crops to the local food bank. Adrienne R, Hope ‘21, an avid Environmental Science student and Captain of the Brentwood Environmental Action Team (BEAT), remembers “going up to the school garden last year, and seeing the visible progress since then is incredible.”

The BEAT has made incredible progress in the school garden over the past two years, notably by replanting all the garden beds, and now our class will contribute further by creating an effective composting heap, cleaning up the fish pond, greenhouse, and more.

A huge thank you goes to Mr McCarthy for listening to the needs of his students and the local community and creating this project which benefits us all. As excited as we are for the upcoming exam, it is easy for many students to lose momentum at this time of year and just say “I don’t carrot all”, but Mr McCarthy continues to encourage us to enjoy the “good thymes” until it is time to “celery-brate!”

Maddy W, Hope ‘21

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