Alvarez High School, built in 2006 and located on the former Gorham Silver Manufacturing site next to the pond, is intimately linked to the past, present, and future of Mashapaug. Recognizing these connections, teachers and students are integrating the site into curriculum and class projects. Teacher David Evans and students in his 2012-13 AP Environmental Science class are collaborating with videographer David Stephens, Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island Director Amelia Rose and artist Holly Ewald to produce a video they hope will help the Alvarez school community understand the cultural and environmental history of their school’s site. In the first semester students participated in a series of workshops, led by Amelia Rose and guest speakers to learn about Gorham Manufacturing processes and products, the subsequent environmental impact, protections that are in place now and clean up solutions for groundwater, the cove and land tangential to their school; as well as about the impact of stormwater runoff on Mashapaug Pond, the importance of water quality on a local and global level, and solutions to prevent water pollution.
Listen to Dave Evans talk about his class:
Aware of the controversial siting of Alvarez, these high school seniors see this video as part of the legacy they leave for future students, faculty and staff to better understand the school’s past and present and its hopes for the future.
At the same time, students in five Art Classes for the second semester of 2013 are working with artists Holly Ewald, Deb DeMarco and their Art Teacher Sarah Cappelli to create a ceramic timeline mural for the school cafeteria. The mural-making process introduced students to clay and clay techniques and the history of the school site as well. Clay enabled the students to create the imagery, color and texture of the pond and surrounding land from Indigenous through present time with hopes of ball fields and a walk way around Mashapaug cove in the future. With these efforts, the young Alvarez community is building a sense of school pride and identity.