The words came out of the mouths of babes.
"Killing the bay is like killing humans," said Ian Dexter, 10.
"There's too much pollution in it," said Anna Baran, also 10. "Weneed to stop it."
They tried, and now they hope people will hear.
They're part of a group of fourth-graders at Elkridge Elementary School who last year produced "Save Our Bay," an award-winning slide show about Chesapeake Bay pollution and conservation. The school entered the slide show in the Howard County Film Festival, where it won first place, beating out such entries as the life of Barbie and the dangers of tobacco.
Then it took first place in the Maryland Film Festival and the International Student Media Festival, which included entries from California, Florida and Michigan. The students head down to Washington Feb. 6 to pick up their ISMF award, an engraved trophy and a certificate.
"We didn't expect to win," said Ian, "because there were so many other good ones."
Their slide show is composed of about 40 collages that they created using construction paper. Some are scenes of the bay, the classroom, or the recycling plant, each ofthem delicately pieced and pasted together by kiddie scissors and kiddie hands. One collage shows an underwater scene of the bay where yellow, orange, red and green fish are swimming around junk -- a discarded rubber tire, rubbish, a plastic jug. Some of the fish are dead, marked by a black "X."
Another collage shows happy people in front of a mobile recycling truck, which collects soda cans, newspaper and glass.
The lessons they learned from making the slide show were invaluable, they said. They learned that the bay was being mistreated by people everywhere.
"People would be throwing stuff in it and youcouldn't swim or fish in it," said Anna, whose sing-song voice narrates the script.
"I learned that you really shouldn't dump your sewage into the soil or down the drain, because it's going to go to the Chesapeake Bay," said Glen Neubauer, 9. "It would kill the oysters and the crabs. People would not have much seafood and sea life."
"I found out it was getting really polluted," said Richard Murphy, 9.
And he said it's going to take a lot of effort to clean it up.
"People need to work hard before the crabs and the clams die," he said.
Although Richard doesn't like crabs and clams, his family does. "And if all the crabs and clams die in the bay, the prices will be raised," he said.
Achal Srinath, 9, who also narrated part of the script, picked up some conservation tips along the way.
"Don't put things in the drain," he said. "Take showers less than five minutes. Wash with a full load."