July 16, 2020
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Students build firebreaks

  • Credo eleventh grader Michael Zhai and teacher Amy Atchley work on a Lake County firebreak.

October 25, 2019

On Tuesday in late Sept., 90 Credo High School juniors set out for four days to make the world a better place. It is the public Waldorf charter school’s tradition that the fourth week of school is dedicated to Adventure Learning. This fall’s eleventh grade adventures focused on making a positive contribution to our Bay Area community.

Students chose from one of four service options: Fire Management in partnership with CalFire in Lake County, the recent site of devastating wildfires; supporting Social Justice in partnership with San Francisco’s Glide Memorial Church; supporting Food Justice in partnership with Oakland’s Youth Urban Farm Project; and Coastal Conservation in partnership with the California State Parks tasked with conserving fragile coastal ecosystems while growing the scientific knowing of these same ecosystems.

The Fire Management team, which involved 27 Credo students under the direction of teachers Amy Atchley and Dirk Wahanik, collaborated to clear a 1/4–mile long, 35-feet wide firebreak as designed by CalFire Brigade Commander Jake Hannon. Bruce Lang, CalFire’s Public Information Officer, came to orient students towards recently burned areas, introduced the reasoning and methodology for controlled burns and described expected effects of the students’ work. Students learned that clearing all dead brush and any low-hanging tree limbs will starve a fire of fuel and stop its advance, and that the ideal site for a firebreak is along roads, rivers and ridge lines. The break that Credo students created was positioned between a road and a creek bed.

While all students helped build the fire break, each student also selected a group job to ensure student ownership of the experience. Job teams included safety managers, food managers, camp managers and documentarians. Four students documented the work in film and still photography led by volunteer filmmaker Joseph Griffin. They are now editing a short film of their work.

Student Tori Paquet chose the Fire Management trip because they wanted to learn more about how to deal with one of the most recent natural disasters we have been facing. “I learned that anything within ten feet from the ground could be hazardous and should be cut to avoid the spread of fire. Also, that cutting down dead trees is a whole team effort. I feel we made a positive contribution toward protecting the people and resources of Lake County against possible future fire damage.”

Credo High School, Rohnert Park’s college prep public Waldorf high school, will hold an open house on Sat., Nov. 2, at 1 p.m. at 1300 Valley House Drive in SOMO Village, Rohnert Park. All interested eighth grade students and their families, as well as prospective transfer students are welcome.