Long Branch Elementary School, Arlington, Va., celebrated Earth Day with a visit to the Henderson Hall portion of the joint base April 21.

School children participated in creative activities during their visit, and Joint Base Commander Col. Patrick M. Duggan awarded command coins to two second-graders who took part in the Marine Corps Mentoring Program.

The more than 30 second-graders, led by staff members who work at various organizations on Henderson Hall, decorated ceramic pots, made recycling bags, created plants out of tissue paper and participated in an interactive activity which spotlights how humanity's bad habits can affect the environment.


Students also went on a scavenger hunt.

"This was one of those fun ways to show them that it is easy to just do your part, to make your carbon footprint a little smaller," said Michelle Frye, second-grade teacher at Long Branch Elementary School.

"We've talked to the kids about serving their communities, about helping others, to look out for their neighbors and to take care of the Earth. These are all things we want to instill in our children at an early age," she said.

The Marine Corps has an established and longstanding relationship with Long Branch Elementary School through its Marine Corps Mentoring Program. A group of Marine volunteers visit the school "to help students learn in a fun and interactive way through educational games," according to the Henderson Hall Marine Corps Community Services website.

"Mentoring Program Marine Corps Henderson Hall invited mentees Lauren Clayton-Wren and Sabrina Anderson, both 8-year-old second-graders and their classmates to participate in this event," said Chanel Sharp, school liaison program manager for Marine and Family programs.

Duggan handed out command coins to Lauren and Sabrina for consistently taking part in the mentoring program's Tuesday reading group. Holding up the coin, Duggan said, "You can't go buy this in a store."

Duggan told the girls that the coin is for people who have done outstanding work in their communities and for demonstrating what it looks like to be a good role model.

"Congratulations, keep up the good work," he told them. "We are proud of you."

Duggan also engaged in a question and answer style conversation with the students, asking students about the definition of Earth Day and some ways to care for the Earth.

"Earth Day is a special day set aside to take care of the Earth," answered one little girl.

On ways to help care for the Earth, one student said "We can pick up trash."

Duggan affirmed the students' answers and reminded them that by helping the Earth, we help everybody.

"We help the earth because it helps us all," he said. "It is a cleaner and safer and better place to live."

Contact Pentagram Staff Writer Delonte Harrod at dharrod@dcmilitary.com.