RPHS Visits Queens County Farm
Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Sustainability (RPHS) opened in September of 2010 and is housed on the Beach Channel Campus. RPHS is a small learning environment which allows staff to deliver content rich academic programs integrated with real-life situations to enlighten, engage, enrich and motivate students.
On Friday, October 22, RPHS took all 90 of their students and their teachers, guidance counselor and principal, Ms. Connolly, to the Queens County Farm. This was the first Learning Voyage of many for the new school. Learning Voyages attempt to bring about deep learning by engaging students in real-life scenarios and utilizing the city as their classroom. Rockaway Park High School believes that students should know they each have the power to impact and change the world, and understand how the choices they make affect the living environment. Learning Voyages benefit the students by energizing and motivating their engagement through high-level tasks and active roles in the classroom. They use case studies and projects to connect students to real-world audiences and compel them to care and contribute. They also set clear expectations and tight follow-through for respect and responsibility, teamwork and contribution, and commitment to high quality work. Learning Voyages also build a school culture where students feel safe, respected, and pushed to be their best selves. They challenge students with deep cognitive thoughts and important responsibilities. They help develop the critical thinking and problem solving skills needed to succeed in college and beyond, and to become future leaders. The students read “Of Mice and Men” and studied models of sustainable and unsustainable farms. The students learned that sustainable agriculture is both environmental and social: a farm is a living, changing system that works with the environment as a whole, and all people deserve safe, local and affordable food. At the farm the students were able to tour and learn about the farm, learn about sustainable practices and social justice, environmental justice, and food justice.
The students also learned about the health differences between local food and food grown abroad. Students were able to take a hayride, pick pumpkins and interview farmers about urban farming and their career choices.
Once back in the classroom the students then compared the sustainable practices seen on the farm to the unsustainable practices in the book. They learned to keep food journals to analyze how the choices we make can contribute to sustainable or unsustainable systems. They created a plan for a more sustainable lifestyle for the characters in the novel “Of Mice and Men” and created a plan for a more sustainable personal lifestyle.