It was an evening of upbeat songs with positive environmental messages about saving our oceans and watersheds as 230 students at Pierre Elliot Trudeau Elementary School performed in a concert on June 6 called Rock the Salish Sea.
The concert series, now in its fourth year, is staged by the Artist Response Team, an independent, Vancouver-based production house specializing in music and entertainment that educates about ecology. Producers Holly Arntzen and Kevin Wright, along with their band, The Wilds, bring a library of eco-rock songs to a school. They conduct a four-day workshop with the students, after the children spend two months learning the songs, before performing for their families and the community.
Alison Diesvelt, who teaches a Grade six/seven split class at Trudeau Elementary, said it was an "amazing opportunity," to help the students learn about the environment with the help of music. "It's so much more exciting for the children. I think when the lessons are embodied and they are singing them and dancing them, they remember them. We are very fortunate. It's something the children will never forget, along with the messages."
Grade seven student Shourya said the message from this experience is that "we're trying to save the environment and get plastics out of the ocean and grow more plants which help nature." Philip, who is in grade 6, added "we learned that there is more about climate change. It's coming really quickly and we have to find a way to stop it." Marcial, also in grade six, said it was an interesting week "because we get to learn about what's happening in the world and how a bunch of plastics are being thrown into the ocean."
The students also prepared speeches to introduce the songs, thematic displays and artwork as part of the initiative, along with resources and information about environmental protection and recycling for their families. "Hopefully, the messages from the kids get home to parents," explained Principal Angela Hughes. "Because it's their world we're changing."
Kevin Wright said each time they go into a school, the experience is very rewarding. "It's very heartwarming to say the least. You can see the excitement in the kids. The energy is about as big as you can get." And he said the students really understand the messages. "When the kids take things to heart, the parents do as well."
Earlier this year, students from Lord Nelson Elementary also performed in a Rock the Salish Sea concert.