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Keeping Our Promise - Celebrating Earth Day with Alumni


A key element of O’Dowd’s charism is our call to Kinship with Creation. This guiding principle emerged through the Living Lab, a multi acre site that started in 2000. Today, Kinship with Creation is integrated throughout much of our school’s academic, spiritual, and co-curricular programs. The Living Lab has 6 outdoor classrooms, living examples of all of the native plant communities of our region, and a food garden that includes chickens and rabbits. The lab is ever growing in its capacity to receive classes from numerous departments. It began with a student idea, and students continue to be drivers of its growing vision. It thrives thanks to the steady power of monthly volunteer workdays and bi-weekly service opportunities.

To celebrate Earth Day this year, Living Lab founders Annie Prutzman and Tom Tyler welcomed O’Dowd alumni to come on campus and care for the gardens. Annie, our Living Lab Educator, and former O’Dowd teacher Tom led a beautiful celebration with alumni, expressing gratitude for the community and the growth of the Living Lab through these past 23 years. “When we started the Living Lab, the former quarry site, blocked off by barbed wire, was devoid of both soil and trees, and was covered with trash and weeds,” shares Annie, “But year after year, our students learned to restore this hillside into a place where both wildlife and people find refuge, and where we experience our Kinship With Creation.”

Throughout the day more than 70 alumni, students, and staff worked together, reconnected with old friends, and built new connections - all while sharing the far-reaching impact the Living Lab had in their lives. It was especially wonderful to see the Lab through the amazed eyes of alumni who hadn’t been back in years. “The day was a beautiful celebration,” shares Tom. “It was such a delight to reconnect with students from the past and so gratifying to hear how much their experiences in the Living Lab positively impacted their lives.”

Alumnus Corey Ordonez ’02, who was an active member of the Eco Club and played an important role in the Living Lab said, “I am blown away by how much the Living Lab has grown since I was last here. The highlight was seeing Ms. Prutzman and Mr. Tyler. I didn’t realize as a student the impact the Living Lab and the teachers would have on my life, but looking back I am excited to give in gratitude for everything I received.”



Dedicated O'Dowd alumni, Living Lab faculty, and friends have joined together as stewards to establish a Living Lab Endowment. Steve Costa, long time Living Lab advocate and father to O’Dowd alumni and grandfather to current students, spoke at the Earth Day celebration about the importance of the fund and kicked off the giving with the endowment’s first gift. The endowment will sustain the thriving natural habitat of the Living Lab and enhance environmental education for generations to come. Click here to become a steward or to learn more.

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