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Clarks Pond a Classroom at Bloomfield Middle School

Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission brings environmental education program to Bloomfield

Bloomfield Middle School is thinking outside of the box – and classroom – when it comes to environmental studies.

Since the beginning of the school year, Clarks Pond, located behind the Huck Road school, has been the centerpiece for science lessons, thanks to Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission's living classroom program.

"We're taking what students learn in class and applying it to a direct science lesson," said 7th and 8th grade West Wing teacher Wendy Cerniglia.

On Thursday, Cerniglia's class roamed the grassy, picturesque bank of Clarks Pond and played an "I Spy" game, where students had to describe an animal, plant or something from the water for others to guess.

"We're just helping out the environment," said 8th grader Armani Johnson, who was part of a group of students that recently planted trees along the living classroom. Johnson has also brainstormed ideas to build a habitat for the Canadian geese that congregate behind the school.

Clarks Pond, and the connecting Third River, are tributaries to the Passaic River, treated by the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission.

Since 2002, 200,000 students have learned through hands-on lessons how to become environmental stewards through the commission's Educational Outreach Program. The living classroom program currently exists in two Fairlawn schools and Bloomfield.

The school hopes Clarks Pond can be used for lessons in other subjects, like physical education, art and music. The clearing features several log benches and a teaching station for instruction. And, this winter, students will build bird houses to install outside in March.

"...This belongs to you," said Principal Sal Goncalves of the living classroom. "We need to protect it."

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