Recap: Service Day and Earth Week claim the Quad

Soumya Jhaveri and Eleanor Krugler

With Service Day on Monday and Earth Week through Friday, Palo Alto High School kept abuzz with plenty of environmentally friendly activities for students last week.

The series of events kicked off with Service Day on Monday, with volunteer opportunities at Animal Assisted Happiness, Ecumenical Hunger Program, El Carmelo, East Palo Alto Charter School, Gamble Gardens, Grassroots Ecology: Habitat Restoration at Byrne Preserve, Magical Bridge Playground, Oshman Family JCC, Palo Alto Family YMCA, Project WeHOPE, St. Anthony’s Padua Dining Room, and Webster House Health Center.

Senior Lucy Volino decided to volunteer at St. Anthony’s Padua Dining Room after learning about homelessness and gentrification in the Bay Area in her sociology class.

“St. Anthony’s Padua dining hall in Menlo Park … serves a meal to around 500 people in  the community daily,” Volino said. “I think doing Service Day is a valuable opportunity to engage in community service without having to commit to work for a large period of time with a given organization.”

Students also had the opportunity to serve as a site leader and receive extra community service hours.

Paly’s Environmental Clubs Organization hosted a variety of activities on the Quad during Earth Week, including quizzes, campaigns and a spinner for prizes and pledges. “We’re also selling glass straws on the Quad to promote reusable straws, just not plastic and single-use,” said sophomore Aileen Wu, Zero Waste Club co-president. Photo: Soumya Jhaveri

“At my site, [EPA Charter School] we mostly shelved books and helped teachers around with classroom tasks,” sophomore site leader Charlize Nguyen said. “Service Day is special because it is one of the few, full-day events that Paly offers to all students. It is a fun way to bond with peers, take a break from academic work, and give back to the community.” 

In previous years, Service Day was held on a Flex day, but this year, students were excused from their classes if they decided to participate. Senior Kevin Cox said he was initially disappointed in the change.

“When I first signed up, I actually thought it was like previous years where we didn’t have class,” Cox said. “It wasn’t too difficult catching up for me because my classes were more so into review time for APs.” 

The Paly Environmental Clubs Organization, or ECO, includes the Zero Waste, Roots and ClimateVision clubs. ECO held daily activities on the quad throughout the week, ranging from aquatic trivia to creating a poster thanking Paly custodians.

Each day had a different theme: Outdoor Appreciation, Climate Change, Food and Waste, Transportation and Energy, and Nature.

“Each activity is focused on different aspects of what’s going on in the environment right now,” said sophomore Aileen Wu, Zero Waste Club co-president.

Last semester, ECO raffled off metal straws for students that signed up for “No-Straw November” by pledging to not use plastic straws that month. Last week, efforts to promote alternatives to single-use straws continued as Zero Waste Club, a part of Paly ECO, sold glass boba straws on the Quad. Each straw was three dollars, or a student could purchase two for five.

“In the future, we hope to continue to be involved in campus activities such as Earth Week in order to pursue our goal of spreading awareness, educating others, and making a difference while having fun,” Zero Waste Club co-president Zander Leong said.