Clark Chronicle

Clark Students explore being mermaids

Junior Anna Herrin poses for a picture underwater.

Junior Anna Herrin poses for a picture underwater.

Junior Anna Herrin poses for a picture underwater.

Paniz Jazirian, Staff Writer

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Four students from Clark’s Environmental GIS class got the chance to go to mermaid school Aug. 20 as a part of the Marine Environmental Restoration maids (M.E.R.maids) team. The goal of this trip was for students to take photos to create posters in the classroom to raise awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution. Virginia Hankins, a professional mermaid and actress, taught the students how to be mermaids. In her backyard pool, Hankins showed the students how to put on colorful mermaid tails and swim.

Afterwards, students learned how to pose for underwater pictures under the guidance of Environmental GIS teacher Dominique Evans-Bye. “I was very excited since this was a childhood dream come true,” said senior Saril Nishan, one of the participants. “I definitely look forward to doing this again,” said senior Anna Herrin.

“I love swimming, but swimming underwater with a mermaid tail proved challenging,” Herrin said. “I have swum like a mermaid before, but this experience was different since you couldn’t bend your knees. I’ve also learned that a lot goes into looking graceful underwater and it is not all natural the way it looks in photos.”

The team learned basics about buoyancy and underwater techniques. Evans-Bye and senior Liam McEvoy took photos as the team tried different exercises with mermaid tails. “They had to put weights in their tail to help them stay underwater for the pictures,” McEvoy said. “I never thought they would have to do that, but it made sense when I learned about buoyancy.”

In addition, the team also had a chance to learn about the highly specialized professional mermaid business. Hankins, founder of LA Mermaid School, had dozens of mermaid tails collected over the years which were for sale. Being a professional mermaid is more than a fun endeavor. One needs to be competent in swimming, diving, and performing underwater, according to Hankins.

The Marine Environmental Restoration maids (M.E.R.maids) participated in the training to create posters for the Lexus Eco Challenge.  “We intend on using pictures from the mermaid photoshoot to encourage others to recycle and conserve,” said senior Christina Nipiossian.

The team took pictures which they will later edit to show themselves holding and helping injured marine life. “Not many people are aware of the way plastic bottles injure or even kill  marine life,” said senior Gabriella Solakian. “We are hoping to send that message across through our posters.”

The team plans to use the artwork they create for the Adopt-A-Beach program. Waste bins on Dockweiler beach will be wrapped with M.E.R.maids digital media art. The team will also add tips emphasizing the importance of properly disposing your trash when visiting the beach or even while at home in your community.

The mermaid characters put a face to the problem. In the past, Americans had used Woodsy the Owl, with his tag line, “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.” Parksy the kangaroo used to encourage park goers to clean up their trash. Mermaid school was a first step for the team to jump start their project of reducing marine debris and informing the public of the dangers of plastic pollution.

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Clark Students explore being mermaids