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PBDA Thrilled to Welcome Zack Rago of ‘Chasing Coral’ to Campus

Posted on: February 27, 2019

Over the past year as part of the first-of-its-kind PBDA Coral Project, our students at Palm Beach Day Academy have embarked on a mission to join the world-wide emergency rescue effort to save the planet’s coral reefs. We are thrilled to host Zack Rago, co-star of the award winning Netflix documentary, Chasing Coral, which served as the catalyst to the development of the Coral Project. Mr. Rago will visit the school’s second through ninth grades for a full day of presentations and education on Monday, March 4 beginning at 8am.

The 2017 film, Chasing Coral, carries out the enormous task of photographing some of the world’s most majestic reefs in hopes of vividly demonstrating to the public a growing threat to our oceans – the global bleaching of coral at an alarming rate. Zack Rago, a young researcher and self-proclaimed “coral nerd,” serves as one of the main stars of the documentary. After viewing the film herself, PBDA Biology teacher, Ashley Hollern, worked with Zack to hold a Spring 2018 screening of the film for students in grades 4-9 on the Upper Campus, followed by a Q&A Skype session with Zack and the students.

The PBDA Coral Project

In Fall 2018, PBDA’s eighth and ninth grade students, inspired by the film and Zack’s optimistic push for student-led action, officially launched the ground-breaking PBDA Coral Project with the goal to both increase awareness and inspire a call to action to help save the coral. As part of the initiative and under the direction of Hollern, the students have built and installed reef tanks and aquaria in the classroom while learning how to care for coral and collect data for the ongoing research. Ultimately, the PBDA Coral Project hopes to provide growth-rate data about three species of stoney coral, to raise “assisted coral” that may one day be introduced to the Florida ocean, and to teach PBDA’s students that they can and must become involved in solving real world problems.

“It was the eye-opening documentary, ‘Chasing Coral,’ that focused our attention on the plight of the world’s coral reefs,” said PBDA Biology Teacher and director of the school’s Coral Project, Ashley Hollern. “Zack’s enthusiastic delivery of this message and his devotion to empowering youth to take action was the driving force behind the birth of the Coral Project.”


Chasing Coral Zack Rago at PBDA

Zack Rago’s visit on March 4

Zack will present to the PBDA Upper Campus student body on Monday, March 4th from 8am – 8:30am in the Smith Family Theater. Following, he will spend the full day in the classrooms of grades four through nine, teaching kids about coral and their role in saving the endangered reef colonies. Zack will present to PBDA’s second and third grades on the Lower Campus at 1:00pm.