Ocean Shore students turn sights to other ocean


    •  May 30, 2023

Oceans Week at Ocean Shore Elementary

Ocean Shore Elementary School students get a good position to view pieces of tie-dye fabric that represent the Northern Lights as part of their Oceans Week experience. Photo courtesy Grace Kavanaugh

Parent-volunteer Jesse Patterson helped students from Ocean Shore School build stone sculptures called inuksuit at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica recently as part of the school’s annual Oceans Week. Made by stacking flat stones, inuksuit are used by Indigenous peoples in the Arctic region of North America to demarcate important locations such as travel routes, hunting grounds, fishing spots and food stockpiles. Inuksuit can also serve as places of veneration.

“Do you see the stick standing up with a ring of rocks around it?” said Patterson. “One of the girls was just building it by herself and I asked her, ‘What are you doing?’ She said, ‘I’m building a tribute to my grandfather who died last year.’”

Throughout Oceans Week, rotating groups of Ocean Shore students visited Linda Mar Beach to participate in various activities that, like inuksuit, were aligned with this year’s theme, “Polar Seas.” Kids played cooperative games to learn about mushing, or dog sledding, and the marine food chain. They also gained experience identifying organic and inorganic sources of pollution during a mini beach cleanup.

“We like to come to the beach to give students this experience so that we can influence them to become stewards of our ocean for future generations,” said Michelle Zuromski, a first-grade teacher at Ocean Shore, who was one of the beach field trip chaperones. “The big message is that everything that we do here in our city and on our beach affects not only the ocean here, but it affects the oceans of the world because they’re all connected.”

Meanwhile, back on the Ocean Shore campus, parent-volunteer Grace Kavanaugh offered a tour of several hallways that had been exuberantly decorated with student artwork in celebration of Oceans Week. Preparations started in late April, said Kavanaugh, and culminated in an open house for parents last Thursday.

The polar seas-themed wonderland at Ocean Shore featured student handiwork, including 3-D busts of arctic wolves, a distinguished papier-mâché albatross suspended from the ceiling and Snowflake, a polar bear painted on paper that stretched about 9 feet up the wall. In one hallway, DIY narwhal heads with long protruding tusks rested on top of a cubby hole shelf, bobbing in ocean waves that had been created with a deep blue LED rope light hanging on the wall.

The displays were just as educational as they were artistic. Explorers like Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton and Roald Amundsen got several shout-outs complete with bios and expedition maps. One wall featured a row of life-size paper penguins, showing all the various species from the tallest, the emperor penguin, to the shortest, the little penguin.

“The art turns into this magical, immersive learning experience for the kids and makes everything really accessible to all of them,” said Kavanaugh.

During Oceans Week, teachers gave a series of themed lessons. Virginia Szczepaniak used a role-play activity to show a group of sixth-graders how auroral light is emitted by magnetospheric electrons colliding with oxygen and nitrogen atoms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Szczepaniak was one of the teachers who helped launch Oceans Week at Ocean Shore School in 1989.

“Now instead of me writing and delivering the program, it’s the whole staff that produces the program,” said Szczepaniak, adding that lesson plans are updated each year to reflect new scientific discoveries and changes in the environment.

“It’s amazing how the entire school comes together every year,” said Kavanaugh. “And each year it’s all completely different. Definitely the best part of Ocean Shore.” 

Download/View the original article: PacificaTribune