BONDVILLE - The 1st and 2nd grade class at The Mountain School at Winhall has spent much of the spring trimester studying the continent of Antarctica. They delved into the topography, the climate, the ecosystems, and of course, the wildlife. One area of particular interest and focus for the students was the penguin residents of Antarctica. The students learned that there are 7 different species inhabiting the continent.

The Emperor, The Rockhoper, The Adelie, The Gentoo, The King Penguin, and two classroom favorites The Chinstrap and Macaroni Penguins.

In learning about all things penguin, the students learned how the penguins of Antarctica are facing a threatened habitat due to climate change and shifting/thinning of the ice in Antarctica.

The two species that are most critically affected are The Emperor and Adelie. As they discovered more about this threat, the students looked to find ways that they could help "save the penguin."

"The kids were really moved by what they learned about the changing habitats and the way climate change was affecting dwindling numbers of the penguins. They really wanted to be a part of the solution," said 1st and 2nd grade classroom teacher Marilyn Thompson.

As a group they scoured the internet to find ways to get involved. They agreed upon sponsoring a penguin through the World Wildlife Fund or WWF. For every $50 collected, the students could sponsor one Emperor penguin and support the WWF in its conservation and protection
efforts of this highly threatened species. So a fundraiser was the task at hand, and what better (and fitting) a way than selling ice cream sandwiches at lunch one day a week. The sandwiches were a huge hit and currently four Emperor penguins are sponsored by the 1st and 2nd grade class of MSW.

They hope to add two more to their sponsorship by the end of the school year. The Mountain School at Winhall is an accredited Pre-K-8 independent community school located in Bondville, Vermont. For information on the school or its programs, call Daren Houck at 297-2662.