Helena Elementary classroom gives back

At the beginning of the year, the kids in Laura Sokol’s second-grade class were just like any other elementary students. Now, they’re bona-fide experts on recycling and the environment.

“These children are just so concerned about the earth and how we treat it, and they just want to do something to make it better,” Sokol said. “They can pretty much tell you anything you want to know about recycling. They can tell you about the destruction of the rainforest.”

At the beginning of the school year, Sokol and her students read “Our Class is Going Green,” a book written by an environment-conscious class of kindergartners in Oklahoma. Immediately, Sokol’s class was inspired.

“They thought it was just so neat a class could do that,” Sokol said.

So Sokol’s class set out to make contributions to animals, to the Helena community and to the environment.

Students donated old newspaper, pet food and money to the Shelby County Humane Society. They collected 20 blankets at Christmas for the Wrapped in Warmth campaign in Helena.

But Sokol said the class did their best and most exciting work when they learned about the environment. They learned about recycling, collecting hundreds of plastic bottles to recycle. They learned about plant life and nature’s cycle, planting seeds and talking about how plants and humans are part of a team.

“They realized that we need the trees and the plants for our survival,” Sokol said. “They realized that it’s teamwork between the plants breathing out oxygen and taking in the carbon dioxide that humans breathe out.”

Sokol said the kids have matured as a classroom through the Giving Back theme.

“It’s just created a sense of community and family in this classroom as far as doing something for a greater cause,” she said. “They feel good about themselves, they have a curiosity to learn and to get more involved on a personal level. It’s given them a sense of empowerment.”