St. John's Academy Students Head Back To School And To Their Drains

“Right now, they are named Boomer-Pit and Big Mac.”

That is what Dmitri Gadreau, an eighth grade student at St. John’s Academy, shared about what his class named their adopted storm drains. “But we plan on having a contest this month to rename the them.”

Right before the pandemic, students at St. John’s Academy in San Francisco’s Outer Richmond neighborhood enjoyed cleaning their adopted storm drains through the SFPUC’s Adopt a Drain program as part of their science class. Then, the City’s shelter-in-place orders went into affect and the students continued their education at home for over a year. Recently in April, the students started to return back into the classroom on campus, and they didn’t waste any time getting back into the routine of cleaning their adopted drains.

Just a few weeks after returning to school, Kelly Newman, a science teacher at St. John’s Academy, was eager to get her science classes reacquainted with their adopted drains.

“At first it felt foreign to be standing in front of a storm drain wearing gloves, donning a rake and a dustpan,” explained Newman. “But as soon as they start cleaning and finding trash, things that have blown in the wind and have landed on the street, close to the storm drain, they start getting into it and are realizing the difference they are making.”

This middle and high school science teacher has a passion for the environment, particularly for educating students about how pollution effects the environment and the ecosystem. A marine biologist turned teacher, she believes the hands-on experience through adopting a drain is teaching valuable lessons.

A student at St. John’s Academy sweeps debris away
from an adopted storm drain.

“I hope they learn that everything that they do and don’t do, matters,” exclaimed Newman. “Even just walking down the street and connecting the San Francisco Bay to stormwater runoff and how the debris and pollution picked up along the way can make its way there. The fish and crab we eat, connecting what we do and how it can impact or help the environment. I hope they learn about watersheds and that we can contribute no matter what.”

“It’s really nice to be back at school and talk to friends in person,” said Varvara Kiryukhin, another eighth grade student. “We have all been cooped up and it’s nice to have an activity that really anyone can do. Adopting a drain is a case where doing a little bit can go a long way. Plus, it’s really gratifying to pick up trash that litters our streets and put them in the trash, compost or recycle bin.”

“It’s important to protect the environment so that future generations will have a nice planet to live on and so the animals can live longer, in a better habitat,” said Gadreau.

St. John’s Academy students shared they plan on continuing to be drain adopters and that they don’t expect to throw in the rake and dustpan any time soon. Kiryukhin and Gadreau even put out a recruitment letter to the entire student body at St. John’s Academy, to get other students involved. Several other eighth grade classmates have gone on to adopt drains with their families close to their homes.

Gadreau says while his class is excited to re-name their drains currently called Boomer-Pit and Big Mac, he explains, it’s more than just naming storm drains, it’s about saving the environment.