Students Celebrate Sustainability During Annual Pond Day
Liz Torrey


St. Andreans spent this past weekend celebrating our 2200 acres and the School’s commitment to sustainability with our annual “Pond Day” and Environmental Lecture. This year’s lecture was delivered by Dr. Jesse Lytle, Vice President and Chief of Staff at Haverford College. As Haverford’s first chief sustainability officer, he leads a multifaceted institutional strategy to steward the College’s environmental impact and engage the campus and community partners on critical sustainability issues. Lytle’s talk to students, which you can watch on our Livestream channel, attempted to answer three basic questions about climate change: Must we change? Can we change? And will we change? He shared an abundance of climate science data that illustrated how carbon emissions are affecting the world’s climate, and how new technologies and political regulations are already transforming the ways in which we consume energy.

“Dr. Lytle was a passionate speaker who gave an engaging and powerful presentation on the regional and global effects of climate change,” said St. Andrew’s Director of Sustainability Diana Burk. “Dr. Lytle not only educated us on the importance of acting on climate change but also gave us hope that our school can make a difference by joining communities all over the world working on solutions to reduce carbon emissions and demand that our political leaders take action.”

Beyond his work at Haverford, Lytle is also a member of the Climate Reality Project’s Leadership Corps, where he works with schools, municipalities, and community groups to increase engagement with climate change issues. Lytle is also chair of the Environmental Advisory Council of Narberth, PA, the first municipality in Pennsylvania to enact legislation limiting the use of single-use plastics. He is a co-founder of the Lower Merion Climate Action Coalition and serves on the board of the Lower Merion Conservancy.

On the Saturday morning following the lecture, students headed out for our annual Pond Day—a day dedicated to connecting our community to our 2200 acres and Noxontown Pond, as well as sustainability initiatives both within the school and in the wider world. To that end, the entire school spent the morning participating in outdoor activities around campus. This year’s activities included:

  • Building driftwood sculptures
  • Building a campus labyrinth
  • Bio Barge tour of Noxontown Pond
  • Campus Frisbee golf
  • Canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding on the pond
  • Catch-and-release fishing derby on the crew docks
  • Learning about beekeeping & the campus beehives
  • Geocaching on the trails
  • Making DIY zero waste household cleaning products
  • Meditation and drawing on the grass docks
  • Hiking and mountain biking on the trails
  • Outdoor yoga and tai chi
  • Upcycling clothes with the Fashion Club
  • Working in the Organic Garden and making mint ice cream with mint from said garden

In addition, retired faculty member Marijke Van Buchem (seen here), who started St. Andrew’s ceramics program, came back to campus to lead an outdoor session on handbuilding teapots. “She was unbelievable,” commented visual arts teacher Navanjali Kelsey. “Full of energy and enthusiasm, at 80!”

“I think that Pond Day really helped me to connect with nature more,” a student commented after the event. “After working in the Organic Garden, we had time to talk about what we wanted to thank nature for. That question might seem very easy at first, but when you think about it deeply, everything we do depends on nature.”

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