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Lesson Plans

An Earth Day Story

A play by Mary Beth Greene

Adapted from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

Ebaneezer's Tree


CAST OF CHARACTERS

(In order of appearance)

Narrator(s)

Teacher One

Mr. Ebaneezer Skowler

Teacher Two

Mother Earth

Teacher Three

Child One

Child Two

Child Three

Child Four

Child Five

Child Six

Child Seven

Child Eight

Child Nine

Young Ebaneezer Skowler

Walker One

Walker Two

Walker Three

Walker Four

Walker Five

Walker Six

Walker Seven

Walker Eight

Student One

Student Two

Student Three

Student Four

Secretary


SCENE ONE: THE EVE OF EARTH DAY 1995

Where: Principal's Office

When: Early evening, April 21, the eve of Earth Day

NARRATOR: Thank you for coming today. Our story begins in the office of Mr. Ebaneezer Skowler, principal of White Oak Elementary School.

TEACHER ONE: Mr. Skowler, sir? We're leaving for the night. [They start to leave, but then they turn back to face Mr. Skowler] Are you sure you haven't changed your mind about Earth Day?

MR. SKOWLER: Yes, I'm sure. What is so important about Earth Day, anyway? Our environment is just fine the way it is! Tomorrow is just another day on my calendar. All teachers are to teach their classes as usual.

TEACHER TWO: We had many special activities planned. The students were really looking forward to it. Can't we do anything in honor of Earth Day?

MR. SKOWLER: Sure. You can teach classes as usual! It's just another day! Good night!

[Teachers exit rapidly.]

MR. SKOWLER: Earth Day? Bah, humbug! No purpose, a waste of time, nonsense . . [mumbles]

[starts working on papers at his desk]

[knock at the door]

MR. SKOWLER: Who's there? Hello?

[puzzled]

[door swings open/girl playing Mother Earth steps on stage]

[dressed in green, blue, brown, and/or white]

MOTHER EARTH: Ebaneezer Skowler? Hello, are you ready to go? We have a lot of ground to cover.

MR. SKOWLER: What? Go where? Who are you?

MOTHER EARTH: I am Mother Earth. I understand that you aren't planning on being very "earth friendly" again this year. It's time for you, Mr. Principal, to get an education. Let's go!

[go to black]


SCENE TWO: THE PAST

Where: White Oak Elementary School lawn

When: April 22, 1970

NARRATOR: Mr. Skowler simply blinked once, and he found himself in a familiar place.

[White Oak Elementary school yard. 1970, kids in groups everywhere, one particular group, center of stage]

[Mr. Skowler and Mother Earth approach this group]

TEACHER THREE: Who can tell me why the protection of our environment is so important?

[points to Child One]

CHILD ONE: Because we won't have clean air to breathe, a place to play or clean water to drink.

CHILD TWO: And that's why we need to start recycling our trash instead of always throwing it away, or worse, on the ground.

TEACHER THREE: What have you done to help the environment?

CHILD THREE: I have started saving my soda cans and glass jars because these can be recycled rather than thrown in the garbage.

CHILD FOUR: I turn the water off when I am brushing my teeth. I also take shorter showers and baths using less water. I am saving a lot of water that way!

TEACHER THREE: Right! Another thing you need to remember is to . . . [pauses]

CHILD FIVE: Follow special instructions when trying to get rid of paints, pesticides, and household cleaners. My dad was telling me that even though some of these items can be thrown away, many towns hold special collections and encourage people to bring these items from their homes. These special collections allow the cleaners and other stuff to be disposed of in a more environmentally friendly manner.

CHILD SIX: Cars and trucks cause smog, so it's important that people keep them tuned up and only drive them when necessary or use public transportation.

TEACHER THREE: That's true. Can anyone tell me another important thing you can do for the environment?

CHILD SEVEN: Never be a litter bug. [pause] Why do people litter in the first place?

CHILD EIGHT: Yeah, don't they know what to do with their junk? Maybe they are just too lazy to find a trash can.

CHILD NINE: But, of course we won't mention anyone's name, will we Ebaneezer?

[talking to a young boy outside the group, resting against a large white oak tree]

MR. SKOWLER: I know this place! This is my school! But everything is so different! So...

MOTHER EARTH: Clean?

MR. SKOWLER: Yes.

MOTHER EARTH: It is April 22, 1970 C the first Earth Day. We are invisible to them, but listen to what the other children and their teacher say.

[Everyone is now facing young Ebaneezer]

YOUNG EBANEEZER: Why should we care about the earth? It has been here a long time. It will be here a while longer, too. Why does everyone get so upset over some wasted water or a little bit of trash on the ground?

CHILD ONE: EBANEEZER! Water is a precious resource, and there is A LOT of trash EVERYWHERE! It's gross!

CHILD TWO: We can't replace clean water when we have used it all. Most of the stuff on the ground doesn't go away, or uh, what do you call it -- decompose.

CHILD THREE: Not only that, but the wrappers, the glass, the tin cans, the plastic pop rings, and the papers become dangerous for animals that live in the area and dangerous for animals that live far away.

CHILD FOUR: Animals can become entangled in the plastic pop rings. If one of the rings slips over its head, the animal could die.

CHILD FIVE: Broken glass and tin cans are sharp enough to injure animals and people.

CHILD SIX: If trash and chemicals get into lakes, streams, and other bodies of water, the fish could get sick and die, too. The litter can also be dangerous for us to be around if we aren't very careful.

YOUNG EBANEEZER: Well if you think littering is so bad why don't you just burn the trash?

CHILD SEVEN: Ebaneezer that creates air pollution. Without clean air to breath, none of us would be able to survive.

CHILD EIGHT: And remember when you cut your foot on some glass you threw down and forgot about in the park? Being a litter bug isn't a very good thing, is it? Hey, that would be a good name for you! Litter bug!

CHILD NINE: [starts singing and dancing around him] Ebaneezer Litter Bug, Ebaneezer Litter Bug...

[other children join in]

TEACHER THREE: Children, children, Ebaneezer has a lot to learn about taking care of our earth.

[The teacher tries to quiet them down by waving his/her arms around]

But let's not tease him.

MR. SKOWLER: [turning to Mother Earth] Everyone in my school started calling me that. I never did get rid of that stupid name. I've hated Earth Day ever since. Let's go, now! I can't stand this! [shuts his eyes tightly and puts his hands over his ears]

[The singing fades as the lights fade to black]


SCENE THREE: THE PRESENT

Where: White Oak Elementary School front lawn

When: April 21, 1995 (Daytime)

[MR. SKOWLER opens his eyes to see his present-day school in the daytime]

[glass bottles, pop cans, crumpled papers, plastic wrap, and other junk on school's front lawn - stage]

NARRATOR: After witnessing his past, Mr. Skowler was happy to get back to his "regular" school again. The first trip hadn't changed him much, but Mother Earth wouldn't give up.

MR. SKOWLER: Mother Earth, I admit that today's world isn't as clean as it could be, but people don't seem to mind it that much. But I don't think it's that bad.

MOTHER EARTH: Not that bad!? See for yourself!

[arm sweeps around present-day school yard]

MR. SKOWLER: Where did all of this trash come from? I don't remember it being here before?

[five children {walkers} come walking out of the school, picking their way through the trash on the sidewalk]

WALKER ONE: This is horrible. You can barely even get down the sidewalk anymore without

running into a pile of trash.

WALKER TWO: No kidding. I can't believe Mr. Skowler is letting the school get this bad. He won't even let us recycle paper or cans or glass.

WALKER THREE: Well, you know how he is. I think he likes the school when it's this messy. Why else would he leave things as they are?

WALKER FOUR: Who knows. I'm always glad to get home and away from the trash and the smell of the garbage piling up in the garbage cans.

WALKER FIVE: There's nothing like the scent of old lunches baking in the sun, is there?

[inhales and starts chocking -- exaggerated]

[kids start laughing]

WALKER SIX: Hey, does anybody notice anything weird about the sky? It looks kind of brown and hazy or something. There's also a funny smell in the air, too.

WALKER SEVEN: Oh, that's just the factories and cars and lawn mowers and other gas-powered equipment creating smog. It fills the sky with smog, though today, things do seem foggier than usual.

WALKER EIGHT: I'll bet old Ebaneezer is having a great day! A school yard full of trash and a sky full of smog!

MR. SKOWLER: I'm not putting that smog in the air, and I'm not the one making the school look like this. I didn't throw down ALL of this trash!

MOTHER EARTH: But you do litter and you don't do anything about the litter. You set the example. These children watch you litter. You don't take pride, so they don't take pride in their surroundings. It stays there, the amount grows, and no one does anything about it, because you won't support their efforts. If you don't care, why should the students? So how do things look to you now?

[MR. SKOWLER looks around]

MR. SKOWLER: My oak tree!

[runs towards tree Young Ebaneezer was leaning up against in first scene]

This is the tree I used to nap, read, eat lunch, and relax beside when I was a boy. What has happened to it?

[has few leaves left, looks bad, droopy, etc]

MOTHER EARTH: Air pollution, acid rain, trash thrown down around it, you know -- the usual stuff. The result of years of environmental abuse and neglect.

MR. SKOWLER: I'm not responsible for all of that!

MOTHER EARTH: No Ebaneezer, but we all should share the responsibility of protecting our Earth. We all must do our part.

MR. SKOWLER: Will the tree die? Can I help it? That's our school tree! White Oak Elementary School must have its white oak tree!

MOTHER EARTH: [irritated] It's not just one tree, Ebaneezer. The grass is dying, there's trash everywhere, including the lakes and streams right here in your town, and your building is turning black from all of the smog! Pollution is ruining your school! [pause] We have one final place to go on our trip.

[fade to black]


SCENE FOUR: THE FUTURE

Where: White Oak Elementary School lawn

When: 2020 (25 years later)

NARRATOR: Ebaneezer rubbed his tired eyes. It had certainly been a strange night. When he opened his eyes once more, the scenery had changed again. They were on the school's grounds again, but this time, the year was 2020. Twenty-five years had passed.

MR. SKOWLER: Where are we?

MOTHER EARTH: We haven't gone anywhere.

MR SKOWLER: All right, when are we?

MOTHER EARTH: This is the future of White Oak Elementary School.

MR. SKOWLER: This place isn't a school; it's a dump. You can't even see the ground there's so much trash. That building should be torn down -- look at it.

MOTHER EARTH: Air pollution has taken its toll on the walls, that's why they are so cracked and dirty. The mayor condemned the school, declaring it an unfit place for children, and all the kids had to transfer to schools in other towns.

MR. SKOWLER: What happens to me?

MOTHER EARTH: You are out of a job. After the way you treated this school, you never find another that will hire you. You work at a dead-end job without much hope of retirement.

MR. SKOWLER: [quietly] Where's my oak tree?

NARRATOR: Mother Earth points to a rotting log laying on the ground on the front yard. The tree, like the school, had surrendered to the terrible effects of pollution.

MR. SKOWLER: No, this can't be. I can stop it. I will do better. I will fix things. Give me another chance, Mother Earth, give me another chance! Give me another chance, give me another chance ....

[fade to black]


SCENE FIVE: THE CONCLUSION

Where: Principal's Office

When: Morning, April 22, 1995

MR. SKOWLER: Give me another chance. Give me

[Bell Rings; Ebaneezer wakes up at his desk in his office at school]

[Ebaneezer Skowler is startled by the sudden loud sound; looks around quickly]

I'm back in my own office!

[Secretary comes in]

SECRETARY: Good morning, Mr. Skowler. Here's your newspaper and the daily announcements.

MR. SKOWLER: [asks excitedly] What day is it?

SECRETARY: It's April 22, sir.

MR. SKOWLER: [excitedly] It's EARTH DAY! I didn't miss it! We have to get moving! [pushes a button on desk for the public address system intercom] Attention all staff and students, attention all staff and students. In case you have forgotten, today is Earth Day. In honor of this special day, we are going to have an all-school cleanup starting in ten minutes. Classes should meet me by the white oak tree.


SCENE SIX: EPILOGUE

Where: White Oak Elementary School lawn

When: 2000 (Five years later)

[Scenery: school yard. There is not a piece of trash to be seen anywhere. Recycling boxes sit next to the school entrance (labeled pop cans, paper, plastic glasses). The white oak tree is looking healthy again. The school is scrubbed clean and looks like new. Flowers bloom along school wall. Ebaneezer is sitting beneath "his tree" talking with some students.]

STUDENT ONE: The school looks great! I remember when I first came here, this place was a mess!

STUDENT TWO: Wasn't it on Earth Day that we had that big cleanup? Everyone got involved! It was almost as fun as the time after that when we helped clean up around the town's ponds and streams.

STUDENT THREE: Yeah, and it's neat how our recycling programs help pay for the trees, flowers, and bushes we've planted.

STUDENT FOUR: I remember that you weren't very big on taking care of the environment, Mr. Skowler. What made you change your mind?

MR. SKOWLER: Ever since I was a child, I didn't really care about our environment. At school, the other kids gave me the nickname "Litter Bug." I didn't think that pollution was any big deal, but a good friend convinced me that I was wrong! [bell rings] Oh, lunch is over. Time to go to your next class.

[They all stand up and start walking towards the school.]

STUDENT ONE: Since you've done so much to help the environment is these past years, you ought to be called something else.

STUDENT TWO: Your new nickname should be "The Good Earth Principal."

STUDENT THREE: Hey, I like that name! [chants/sings it] Good Earth Principal, Good Earth Principal ...

[Other kids join in as they walk into the school.]

[Just before Mr. Skowler goes inside, he turns back to the white oak tree. Standing beside it, he sees Mother Earth. He waves to her, and she just smiles and waves back. Then she walks around the tree and disappears.]

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