"It started with the windmills in Holland can't you see!

The farmers used the windmills to chop their grain for free

The people got so happy 'bout the power their wind had

That they built lots of windmills and it made the people glad!"

The "Alternative Energy Song" by teacher Laura Tovar loses something in translation when you're not singing it. But it is a funny reminder that this year's Summer Arts Academy is based on the theme "Conservation Counts!"

And it would be hard to count all the ways that the academy at Oswalt Elementary School in Walnut is pushing conservation.

There's the sunflower decorated canvas parcel bags. Then there's the "stained glass" butterflies and dragonflies.

The

Geoffrey Manalang, 11, works on a watercolor during the Conservation Counts!!
140 students in the summer school seemed as busy as, well, bees in the popular program.

Of course, beehives everywhere are dying out, so it's a good thing that the youngsters are trying to learn as much about conservation as they can.

Maybe one of them will come up with an idea that will stop "global warming," a popular buzzword these days.

Hannah Bowen and Kristina Tartaglini were especially proud of their brightly colored butterflies. The 7-year-old pointed out their luminous creatures on the huge bulletin board.

Classmates Sarah Ong and Nanise Royal, both 7, agreed that the summer academy was fun. Tiffany Sapiens, 8, thought the sunflower bags were especially useful.

Students in grades 2-6 were

offered the three-week program in the Rowland Unified School District.

For $180, the kids got classes in art, singing and dancing.

An undercurrent of conservation flowed through all the fun and games. Amid all the laughs and smiles, the children were learning a lot about their planet.

"I learned that recycling is very important," reported 8-year-old Itzel Rojo.

From 8:30 a.m. to noon, the students would rotate through the different classes. This was Earle Ousley's second year teaching at the academy.

"It's a nice change from regular school, where we are cutting back on art and music," the La Seda instructor said.

In another room, teacher Karen Blackburn led a spirited singing class.

Once again, the lyrics had been changed to promote conservation. The students were actually quite talented, belting out, "We need conservation, soon the ground will shake."

While the rest of the class sang backup, kids would come up to the microphone for solos. Gracia Soto and Candy Palencia, both 11, said the singing was "so much fun." And Christa Wallin had quite a voice for a 9-year-old.

In the big multipurpose room, class was literally hopping. Lines of children danced back and forth across the floor, performing quick-paced dance routines.

A couple enterprising dances cartwheeled across the stage. This definitely wasn't your mother's elementary class.

"Unfortunately, enrollment is down because of gas prices and the economy. Still we were able to give a lot of scholarships to deserving students," said Tovar.

The academy is busy preparing for its big Gallery Night on July 2 at 5 p.m., when the students' artwork and performing talents will be displayed.

The public is invited to attend the big event in the school at 19501 Shadow Oak Drive, Walnut.

richard.irwin@sgvn.com

(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2801