Stop Pollution — Be the Solution

SDJA is making lifestyle changes from home to be the solution 

By Madeline Ramirez (‘21) and Sammi Weiss (‘23)

The coronavirus pandemic has caused strains in our everyday lives. Following the stay-at-home order, we gaze out of our windows and can finally observe the change in our community. The traffic from the freeways is almost silent. The chirping of the birds fills the void. The planes are at a standstill. The stadiums have fallen quiet. The decrease of jobs has lessened air pollution. Change has blossomed around us. 

Banker's Hill

In Banker’s Hill, nature is becoming a more vibrant green and the skies are a clearer blue as pollution is decreasing. 

We are experiencing a historical event that has impacted people and their lifestyles for the future. San Diego Jewish Academy’s students and faculty have taken it upon themselves to be a part of that change. 

Jesse Katz (’23), a freshman at SDJA, has noticed the change in our environment. By watching the news and paying attention to nature around him, he has learned about how small actions can make a big impact in the long run. “I’m going to take the knowledge that I’ve gained in quarantine and instill it in myself and my community going forward,” Katz says. 

Seeing the trash on the streets has given Rikki Dorfan (’22) the means to improve the environment. “I’m going to make sure I use reusable water bottles and containers, and I’m going to make sure to pick up any trash I see around me,” Dorfan says. Moving forward, she will practice better recycling habits, as well as going paperless, and using more environmentally friendly items, including fewer plastic bags,

Maya Silberstein (’21) has been contributing to the decrease in pollution by being vegetarian, which reduces the production of greenhouse gases. From here on out, Silberstein will continue “being more aware of those around me.” Silberstein has learned from this experience to pay attention to the little things that matter. 

Seeing the world through a new lens, Devin Marcus (’21) has gained inspiration from the quarantine to be more proactive when it comes to the environment. “The stay-at-home order has helped me focus more on what I’m doing to help my home as well as the trash and recycling my family ends up collecting,” Marcus says. He has adopted habits that are beneficial to our Earth including using electricity instead of gas, recycling as much as possible, picking up trash, and being more observant of the world around us. Marcus says, “ It’s nice to think about the good that we’ve accomplished in the world rather than seeing the world through a perspective of hatred or having that mentality to be incapable of so many things.”

SD Harbor

The usually packed boardwalk at San Diego Bay is nearly empty at sunset. 

The SDJA faculty are using knowledge gained from past life-altering events to help them maintain a proactive lifestyle during the coronavirus pandemic. 

MUS Physics and Biology teacher Patrick Hagarman has been practicing good environmentally-friendly habits, including veganism, dieting, and sustainable living. Throughout this pandemic, Hagarman has modified his lifestyle to a further extent. “I usually fly a decent amount to visit family back east or to travel during breaks, but that has no longer been an issue since our travel plans have all been canceled,” Hagarman says. Once the stay-at-home order is lifted, he plans on utilizing the resources around him, including the trolley line that’s being constructed, electric cars, and bikes. Hagarman adds, “I’ve noticed the seemingly greater presence of birds and animals… this may have been due to a decrease in pollution since so many factories and vehicles haven’t been active.” Being quarantined has given him the time and opportunity to go outside more to observe nature thriving. 

SDJA history instructor Dr. Carleton Cunningham had an epiphany due to the growing environment which has led him to make improvements in his life to better the world. “Since I am now teaching virtually, I am not making photocopies [of handouts for my students] and thus killing fewer trees,” Dr. Cunningham says. A big change that he has noticed is that with fewer people driving “you don’t have to contend with cars to compete for the road.” Moving forward, he plans to continue these effective choices to benefit the environment. 

From clay to paper to digital building blocks, SDJA’s Upper School art teacher, Elizabeth Nebo, has been environmentally friendly from the get-go. She reuses her clay in ceramics, recycles paper in art, and limits paper handouts. “One of my personal goals to be more environmentally friendly is to purchase more ethically sourced goods. I want to support companies that are creating their merchandise in a sustainable way for the environment,” Nebo says. She goes out of her way to share her views with others in the hope of making even the smallest impact on the environment and the world. 

SDJA’s community has chosen to thrive during the coronavirus pandemic by helping the environment and will continue these actions moving forward. 

Photos by Madeline Ramirez (‘21)

Mother Earth is Healing 

By Ella Diamond (‘20) and Madeline Ramirez (‘21) 

While we are panicking about COVID-19, Mother Earth is healing. Even though there are many consequences to the horrible CoronaVirus, some benefits are arising from this virus. Because cities have been put under lockdown, people are forced to stay at home unless it is necessary to attend their jobs. This has caused a huge impact on lives. 


Factory chimneys spew pollution: a normal sight prior to the quarantine. 


A factory in Trento, Italy now at a standstill. 

Not all factory jobs are considered essential, so many workers have gone home. Due to the fact that factories are no longer producing toxins that are polluting our air, the skies have started to clear up. A second reason our air has started to be less polluted is because there is much less traffic on the roads. People are now only leaving their homes to buy groceries. This alleviates all of the unnecessary travel to the mall or anywhere else people might go. 


A typical Sunday before the epidemic in Galle Face park in Colombo, Sri Lanka. 


Galle Face park during the quarantine; the lack of human feet has allowed the grass to regrow plush and green.  

 Another place people have seen improvements due to CoronaVirus is in the canals that run through the beautiful, winding streets of Venice, Italy. There, people have been kept in even harsher conditions, not even allowed to leave their homes for recreational activities such as walking. This has led to less pollution in the canals. People are no longer throwing their trash into the canals, and the pollution in the air isn’t entering these man-made rivers. Because of this, people have noticed that the waters look crystal clear and that they can even see fish. 


The recent lack of visitors to Venice has helped bring clean water back to the canals

In conclusion, even though this novel virus has taken so many things away from us, we need to start looking on the bright side. We need to start understanding that COVID-19 has given us a chance to make our world a greener and better place. This virus has given us time to think about the destructive path we are all going down, and it has given us a chance to think about what we can do about it. 

(All Photos: Wikimedia Commons)