Most people don't know that this week is National Geography Awareness Week.
But students at American Fork Junior High School do, and they are trying to make others aware of the celebration. The students have launched a public information campaign and have scheduled a week of activities to emphasize the importance of geographical and environmental issues. This year's theme is "Windows on a Changing World.""We are desirous to spread the word about the role that geography plays in our lives and how we are affecting our environment," said Janice Mayne, American Fork Junior High School teacher and state chairwoman of National Geography Awareness Week.
During the week, the school's 1,800 students will participate in after-school activities designed to teach more about geography. Activities include a mock Jeopardy game and a decorate-the-globe contest, where students will decorate a globe with stories, poems and pieces of art with environmental themes. On Friday students will wear T-shirts with geographic logos.
Students will also be writing letters to servicemen in Saudi Arabia. Students who write a letter containing five accurate bits of geographic information will become eligible for prize drawings.
"It's going to be a mapping exercise as to what states and countries our students really have links with," Mayne said.
Some students will write stories about the week's activities for local newspapers and others will write letters to the editor about environmental concerns. Several students will assist in writing a bill that will be presented to local legislators encouraging a 5-cent deposit on all aluminum cans.
The week's main activity is scheduled for Friday, when students will attempt to connect each of American Fork's seven schools with a chain of aluminum cans. Mayne said it will take about 80,000 cans to build the chain. The size of the chain depends on the number of cans donated by citizens and collected by students.
"What we want people to become aware of is just how many cans are out there that can be recycled," Mayne said.
Mayne said money received from selling the cans may be used to help a small school in Malawi, Africa.
This is the second year that American Fork Junior High School students have been active in promoting National Geography Awareness Week. Last year the school's students were instrumental in the state declaring the week Utah Geography Week. Students wrote the proclamation that Gov. Norm Bangerter signed. Bangerter visited the school during last year's celebration and may do so again this year.