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Students take on a hot issue

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Video by Montessori kids shows how to dispose of fireplace ashes

By Beth Potter

Residents with fireplace ashes to throw away need to know the proper way to dispose of them.

A seven-minute video made by first- through third-grade students at the Montessori School of Evergreen offers some tips.

Put ashes in metal buckets — not plastic buckets or paper bags — and cover them with water, according to information in the video. Don’t dump ashes on the ground outside if there’s any chance they could smolder and start a fire, the video instructs.

Students used information from firefighters at Evergreen Fire/Rescue to make the video. About 10 of the students presented the video to firefighters on May 19.

The video came about after Montessori teacher Michelle Rogers decided her students should do a service learning project in keeping with the Roots & Shoots program offered by the Jane Goodall Institute. The program encourages young people to come up with solutions to problems in their communities.

Rogers’ students discussed several problems in the community, including fires, September flooding and its aftermath, and trash, Rogers said. The students mapped out areas of the community and posted information on a “data wall” in their classroom.

As part of the project, students interviewed Chris Johnson, Evergreen fire operations chief, to find out what potential fire issues exist in the community. Johnson told them the ash disposal issue had generated a lot of calls for the fire department.

In response, students made the video and also created an online “e-manual” that lists ash disposal tips, Rogers said.

Goodall says a child should be a steward of the community and the Earth, as well as an “agent of change,” Rogers said. As part of the service learning project, students discussed how Goodall’s vision and Montessori founder Maria Montessori’s vision for children are similar.

“Each person can make a difference — it doesn’t matter what your age is,” Rogers said. “This all came from the kids.”

On Monday, May 19, firefighter Bill Cronk took the students on a tour of fire trucks at Station 2 at 1802 Bergen Parkway. They received Evergreen Fire/Rescue patches and plastic firefighter hats. They also were thanked on the Evergreen Fire Protection District web page, where the video also is expected to be posted soon.

Contact Beth Potter at beth@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1043.