Navigating nearly 70 years of history… and now the Hudson River

By: Savanna Buckner

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Students at a historic school in New York are winning recognition for their pollution filtration solution.  



For seventy years, Flushing Christian School in New York has navigated its course with this learning philosophy at the helm: Students learn most effectively when they enjoy school. The recent efforts of a team of fifth-graders at the school, who call themselves “The Navigators,” are a prime example of this philosophy in action. 

Last year, these fifth-graders had a very specific problem on their mind. How could you filter out pollution from the 315-mile-long Hudson River? The Navigators pondered this problem for National Geographic’s new contest, the GeoChallenge, which asked students around the country to develop creative solutions to the problem of plastic pollution in waterways.

Led by their science teacher, Ms. Chantal Nelson, The Navigators developed a filtering system, and presented it at the competition. After competing against more than one thousand teams, the Navigators emerged as national champions, and were awarded $25,000 to continue their research and development of their pollution solution. 

But the learning journey didn’t end there! The Navigators were so enthusiastic about their project that they continued to work on it over the summer. 

“The Navigators met with Rachael Miller, a National Geographic research grantee who heads up the Rozalia Project and studies micro plastics in the Hudson River,” shared Karen Blatt, Head of School at Flushing Christian. “They met with her in July to receive a tour of equipment and learn more about research. She gave them ideas and tips to help them move forward with implementing their solution.”  

Now The Navigators are raising money to make their project a reality, and they’ll report back to National Geographic in the spring with their progress. 

Loving learning and remaining faithful to a purpose over the long haul, as The Navigators are doing, is reflective of their school’s history. 

Formed by three local pastors in 1950, Flushing Christian School was built to offer a faith-centered education to the Flushing area community. Today, the school remains connected to all three of its founding churches and operates in the educational wing of one. 

Besides being closely connected to multiple churches, Flushing Christian School is involved in an array of community projects, such as the City Harvest Food Drive and Operation Christmas Child. The school even has an after-school tutoring program where middle school students assist those in elementary school. 

“All of these acts of service act as bonds for our students in larger ways than mere socializing; they perform meaningful work and show the love of Christ to others,” said Blatt. 

Families celebrate fall at Flushing Christian School

The school’s fidelity to its founding, and steady focus on providing joy-filled Christian education, has created a unique feel that parents, staff, and students all enjoy. 

Flushing Christian School is a place where parents are encouraged to help at the school in whichever way is best suited to them, whether it be redecorating the library, cooking food for a PTO lunch, or coordinating community-building events such as a fall festival or talent show. 

As for teachers, when I asked them what their favorite part of working at Flushing Christian School is, Spanish teacher Angelica Jean-Pierre had this response, “Working alongside and learning from a diverse group of colleagues and serving a multi-cultural, multi-racial community where the love of Christ is tangible. 

And, of course, it’s a place where fifth-graders are motivated and excited enough about learning to devote themselves to a creative solution for cleaning up the Hudson River. And that’s pretty impressive. 

Congrats to The Navigators and to Flushing Christian School! 


Read more: 5 Questions for Karen Blatt

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