Johnson Middle School Changes Environmental Education Week Location


Jessica Ferguson


Photos Courtesy of Dan Colchamiro

By Jessica Ferguson and Molly O’Connell

Staff Writers

Every year, sixth grade students from both Johnson and Bird Middle School participate in Environmental Education Week. Throughout the week, students learn more about ecology, geology, and evolution, while also bonding with other classmates. In past years, both middle schools attended W. Alton Jones Campus in West Greenwich, RI. Although Bird still went to Alton Jones Monday, June 5 to Friday, June 9, Johnson stayed at Camp Burgess this year in Sandwich, MA from Tuesday, May 15 to Friday, May 19.

Sixth grade science teacher Dan Colchamiro organized Johnson’s Environmental Education Week. He said, “We chose [Camp Burgess] because it has a great environmental [education] program, but also because it can accommodate all of the sixth graders at the same time, which Alton Jones could not. We felt it was important for all the students to be together. While the focus of the trip is environmental education, there is also an important emotional growth and grade bonding aspect of the trip that can’t be accomplished when the class is split.”

This year, the camp offered new activities to students, such as rock climbing, a ropes course, and a boat trip to learn about pond life.

Sixth grader Haley MacDonald said, “My favorite activity at camp was the Low Ropes Course, where you get to climb a rock wall and reach 45 feet by hitting a bell.”

“[The experience] is similar to previous years, with more added because of the extra days. Pond study, animal adaptations, geology, forest ecology, whaling, living history, low ropes, team challenges, and a couple of others,” said Colchamiro. “Educationally, it should be similar, but enhanced because of the extended time and educational opportunities. Since all the students are there, it should be a much better experience for the 6th grade community.”

When Johnson attended Alton Jones, the week was split amongst the grade: half of- the grade went for half of the week. However, Camp Burgess was able to host the entire grade for three nights instead of two, which allowed for more activities and bonding due to both the extended week and the entire grade’s attendance.

Although Johnson decided to change locations, their experience provided opportunities for both educational and personal growth.

Sixth grader Brooke Carey said, “My favorite activity about camp was going on  a boat an d getting to see many different types of animals that live in a pond that I have never heard of.”     

“I learned about invertebrates and how it’s important to care about animal and plant life,” said sixth grader Emily Sullivan, who attended Camp Burgess. “Also, I learned to trust in myself and people around me from climbing a rock wall and getting to see all my friends cheering for me.”