An unusual school project will get a local movie debut on Thursday at Arcata Theatre Lounge's monthly Ocean Night.
Arcata Elementary School students took part in a “dynamic project” last June aimed at demonstrating the importance of protecting the oceans and not allowing litter to reach the water, said Allison Poklemba, education program manager for the Arcata Community Recycling Center, a partner in the project.
Students took part in a beach cleanup, collected 6,000 bottles in a plastics collection drive and simulated the Pacific Ocean gyre, or garbage patch, a swirling mass of plastic waste currently residing in the ocean.
”Every student in every grade had an opportunity to learn about how trash impacts our environment and the ocean,” she said.
After the project was completed, Sunny Brae Middle School students put together a 14-minute video on the project called “The Seagull's Dream.” The school planned to send copies of the DVD to other districts in the area to use it as a starting point for discussions, but now it will be put up on the silver screen in Arcata.
The short film will be featured at the Theatre Lounge's Ocean Night, along with “September Sessions” and “A Sheltered Sea: The Journey of the Marine Life Protection Act.” The monthly Ocean Night is sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy, Humboldt Surfrider and Humboldt Baykeeper, and features movies that explore the sea “from majestic documentaries to epic surf flicks,” according to the Theatre Lounge website.
The school's short documentary of its project is from the point of view of a seagull, narrated by fifth grader Stella Joy. The film covered what students learned about the ocean and litter, and the amount of trash found at local beaches, with a focus on the main project -- stringing a huge spiral of plastic bottles on the field to simulate the large mass of plastic waste already in the Pacific Ocean.
At the film's end, all the students from the school gathered around the spiral of plastic and made a pledge to keep the sea litter free.
”It was really a powerful experience for the kids,” Poklemba said.
Poklemba said she did not realize when they were undertaking the project that it would have a screening at the Theatre Lounge, but it should broaden the reach of the project.
”This is really a bonus,” Poklemba said.
Arcata Elementary School Principal Margaret Flenner said her students are excited the Theatre Lounge will be showing the culmination of their project. Students are now much more aware of the issues that face the Pacific Ocean and the planet, even though many were already familiar with the benefits of recycling. With the video showing at the Arcata theater, she hopes it will help spread the information.
”Kids, when they put the message out, people listen,” Flenner said.
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