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Ladybugs are all the buzz as Huntington Harbour school celebrates Earth Day

LePort Montessori Huntington Harbour School teacher Lisa Hawkins and her class participate in Earth Day activities.
Teacher Lisa Hawkins, second from left, collects a ladybug as her class of toddlers participate in releasing 12,000 ladybugs back into the environment in celebration of Earth Day at LePort Montessori Huntington Harbour School in Huntington Beach on Thursday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

June Gump smiled as a ladybug crawled down her left arm on Thursday morning.

June, 6, is a first-grader at LePort Montessori Huntington Harbour School.

“I like that they’re colorful,” she said, as the ladybug inched closer to her hand.

Red and black definitely were the colors of the day at LePort. The school’s students released 12,000 ladybugs throughout the schoolyard and back into the wild, in celebration of Earth Day.

LePort head of school Fatima Asghar led a countdown before the 213 students, from infant to sixth grade, emptied tubs full of the insects around the yard. Many of them were wearing a red and black paper “shell” on their back, or faux antennae on their head.

Toddlers from Lisa Hawkins' class release a ladybug back into the environment in celebration of Earth Day on Thursday.
Toddlers from Lisa Hawkins’ class release a ladybug back into the environment in celebration of Earth Day at LePort Montessori Huntington Harbour School in Huntington Beach on Thursday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Some said they expected the ladybugs would fly away in a massive display. Instead, they watched as the ladybugs quickly went back into the environment, attaching themselves to plants, flowers and trees.

Asghar said ladybugs are part of the Montessori school’s curriculum. Leading up to Earth Day, the students learned all about the ladybug, which is classified as a beetle.

Julie Boshra and Olivia Yoshioko, both 10, are each fourth-graders in Serenity Fisher and Elizabeth Peña’s class. They teamed up to do a project with fifth-grader Claire DiLibero.

Julie wrote facts about ladybugs, while Olivia classified the types and colors of ladybugs. Claire tackled explaining how ladybugs help the environment.

Primary students from Farwa Ali's class participate in releasing 12,000 ladybugs back into the environment on Thursday.
Primary students from Farwa Ali’s class participate in releasing 12,000 ladybugs back into the environment in celebration of Earth Day at LePort Montessori Huntington Harbour School in Huntington Beach on Thursday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

After the ladybugs were released Thursday, the girls each held letters as some of the older students spelled out “Happy Earth Day.”

“Earth Day every day would be a good idea,” Julie said. “If you think about it, this is the Earth that we live on. If it’s trashed up, then what’s going to happen to the air?”

Olivia nodded her head in agreement.

“Personally, I think we should do it every day, not just one holiday once a year,” she said.

Asghar, who has been at LePort since it opened in 2000, said respecting the environment is a big part of the school’s curriculum. A few weeks ago, the students released butterflies into the wild, after watching their metamorphosis from tiny caterpillars.

“Kids like working on insects that help the environment, in connection with Earth Day,” Asghar said. “Because we have the animals, we have the garden, we have the plants, it all pulls that respect in and caring for the environment.”

Teacher Adly Reham, far right, participates with her class of toddlers in Earth Day festivities at LePort Montessori School.
Teacher Adly Reham, far right, and assistant teacher Alexis Waters, far left, with their class of toddlers participate in releasing 12,000 ladybugs back into the environment in celebration of Earth Day at LePort Montessori Huntington Harbour School in Huntington Beach on Thursday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Mary Boatman, a physical education teacher at the school who leads the gardening and animal care projects on campus, said the animal farm has six chickens, three Peking ducks and two bunny rabbits.

“I think it instills in them to respect everything living in nature,” Boatman said. “It instills the sense of pride, when they plant vegetables and they grow, or they plant flowers and they see them grow. They take care of it and nurture it.

“A lot of times it’s things like kale or something that they’re not used to eating or they automatically don’t want to eat. We tear off samples of it, and all of a sudden, the children love it. They have this sense of pride, that they created it.”

June Gump certainly seemed to be enjoying herself as she watched the ladybugs disperse around the playground.

She said she would be having a picnic in her backyard later Thursday, in honor of Earth Day, with her mother Kristy and father John.

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