Riley School and Owls Head Conservation Commission Team UP

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 1:00pm

On Friday, April 27th, the entire Riley School worked together to remove trash and debris from the Plaisted Preserve beach, in Owls Head. In two hours they collected 600 pounds of trash on the shore of the 10.6 acre preserve “This was a major clean-up,” remarked Kathryn DerMarderosian, chair of the Owls Head Conservation Commission. “Thanks to their efforts at the preserve, the faculty and students of the Riley School have helped to support our mission.” 

The clean-up project was inspired by Riley’s Art facilitator, Alexandra Martin, after she went to explore the relatively new preserve. The Plaisted Preserve is under the protection of Georges River Land Trust, and a short trail takes you through woods and wetlands to Broad Cove with views of Camden Hills. “I was overwhelmed by all the trash that had washed up on the beach over the winter. Because of the stream leading to the ocean, the topography, the currents and tide, the beach was loaded with trash, mostly plastic.” She went back with her family, Lower School Director, Todd Martin and their 2 young sons, to do what they could to clean up the area. Recognizing that the many hands of Riley could make a noticeable difference, an all-school beach clean-up was launched.

On Friday afternoon, 45 children ages 4-14, faculty, and parent volunteers from the Riley School met Kathryn DerMarderosian at the trailhead of Plaisted Preserve. They arrived prepared for the half-mile walk to the shore, with the goal of removing as much debris as they could transport. After a quick picnic lunch, they got to work. Organized in small groups, the Riley children and adults collected styrofoam cups, plastic bottles, fishing buoys, line, flotation foam, a pillow, and other bits of plastic, styrofoam, and wood.  Using a garden cart, they filled a trailer hitched to the Martin’s car.

 “I couldn’t have been prouder of this group of children, and of my faculty most of all,” said Rebecca Clapp, Head of Riley. “That kind of perseverance, courage and teamwork speaks to who our students are, and meshes perfectly with our mission and statement of vision.”

 “Riley’s holistic approach creates an exciting environment where children actively engage in their own learning and are provided opportunities to build strong, collaborative relationships.  This was demonstrated on the beach with children approaching the clean up in different ways, but everyone supporting and guiding one another. We assert that Riley graduates are creative, independent thinkers, responsible leaders and members of a global community. This was an opportunity to demonstrate that.”

Back in the classroom, on Monday morning, Ginger Lane (Math facilitator) guided children in approximating the square footage of the area cleaned-up, in order to estimate of the number pounds per square foot collected. “They were amazed at how much trash was collected for such a small area.”

Todd Martin has posted updates and photos of the beach clean-up on Riley’s facebook page. As well as providing links for helping to direct future beach clean-ups; encouraging all to continue the work as stewards of our valued shoreline environment.

The Riley School is a progressive, independent school located on 20 acres in Rockport, Maine.  Where children are guided to become independent, lifelong learners and innovative thinkers. Small, multi-age classes provide opportunities to build strong, collaborative relationships and to nurture the unique talents of each individual. Accredited by the New England Association of School and Colleges and the Maine State Department of Education, the ungraded Riley School enrolls children K-9th grade, and 18 months – 4 years for the Wade Acres program.  Applications are currently being accepted for the 2018-19 school year. For more information visit or call the office 207-594-6405 to schedule a visit.