High School Students Use their Talents to Raise Money for Wildlife

Grayslake, IL schools donate $500 to National Wildlife Federation

06-15-2011 // Megan Blevins
Earthstock at Grayslake HS

Environmental Clubs from Grayslake North and Central High Schools in Grayslake, Illinois, celebrated Earth Week 2011 with a benefit talent show where all proceeds were used to adopt animals from the National Wildlife Federation’s Adopt An Animal program.

Every year, the environmental clubs from both high schools come together to celebrate Earth Day with a whole week of activities, such as recycling, keeping the lights off in the hallways at school to save energy, and hosting one large benefit show where the proceeds go to a different cause every year.

“Earthstock” was held on April 22, 2011 and was the first time the fundraiser was a talent show instead of a concert since the Earth Week festivities began in 2000. The show’s title, “Earthstock," is the name used every year to describe the main fundraising event. This year there were 16 acts—from a duet comedy and Broadway numbers to dancing, bands and a cappella.

“Earth Week is important because it lets us [the students] focus on what we can do to help bring [environmental] awareness to the rest of the school,” said Central senior Amanda Murphy, who has been with the Environmental Club for four years.

Wildlife in the Classroom

The talent show raised a total of $500. Each school is taking $250 and putting $50 each toward five different animals of their choice: North is adopting a harp seal, a moose, an arctic fox, a sea turtle and a polar bear, and Central is adopting a bottlenose dolphin, a panda, an arctic fox, a sea turtle and a polar bear.

“We’ve been studying all the big furry animals in class so the kids really got into it,” said Mike McMahon, Life Science teacher at Central and founder of the Environmental Club. “And through NWF’s adoption program, we can display the stuffed animals that we adopt and show off what we’ve been doing.”

The Environmental Club began in 1999 when McMahon wanted to teach his students how to be environmental stewards. His science class decided they wanted to do a class project and create a butterfly and bird garden by the football field. They looked to local donations for contributions, but decided to hold a fundraiser concert instead—and Earthstock was born.

Healthy Competition

Grayslake Central and North High Schools used to be Grayslake Community High School until it split into two high schools in 2004. North Environmental Club Advisor Dolores Heupel explained that Earth Week and “Earthstock” is a time for the two schools to come together and grow as a community.

“Believe me—there’s a lot of competition between them, but the kids were very supportive of one another this year,” said Heupel. “The kids really shared from their heart and soul why Earth Week is important to them and why they want to make a difference while encouraging others to do the same.”

North High School junior Rubin Varghese agrees.

“First of all, why isn’t Earth Day a whole month?” asked Varghese, a 3-year member of the Environmental Club who helped with set-up for 'Earthstock.' “[The earth] is the most unappreciated ‘person’; we should always thank the earth for how much it gives back to the people.”

Central High School freshman Maria Requina echoes Varghese.

[Earth Week] gives us an opportunity to give back to the earth because the earth gives so much to us.”

A Chance to Change the World

AAH at Grayslake HS

With Earth Week closed until next April, the environmental clubs continue their work by educating students and their community on being good stewards for the environment through the Adopt-A-Highway program and continued maintenance of the butterfly and bird garden.

“These children are the future,” said Heupel. “If they aren’t given the chance to see that they can change the world, then they won’t know that they can make the world a better place.”

The Environmental Club has been nominated for a 2012 National Wildlife Federation Connie Award in the Youth category for their dedication to protecting wild places, such as participating in the Adopt-A-Highway program, Lake County Forest Preserve Volunteer program, Envirothon (a natural resource academic competition), and Ice Fishing, and by having collection stations for recycling paper and plastic & ink jet cartridges.

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