Saturday, October 3, 2009

THS Students Learn About Greening Their School

Our September poll asked: How would you green our schools?

The results (based on six responders; hey, it's a start...), clearly lean towards enabling our students with education rather than trying to tackle the problem through infrastructure:
  • 83% voted for enhancing the eco-education curricula
  • 66% felt retro-fitting with energy efficient components was the way to go
  • Finally, there was a three-way tie for the remaining options with 50% giving the thumbs up for exploring on-site renewable energy solutions, increasing the amount of local food on the menu, and/or enhancing recycling and composting efforts.
But what do THS students think?

Last week, members of THS' Green Team attended the Sustainable Schools Summit in Providence with their faculty sponsor, Eric Marx*. The event, hosted by The Apeiron Institute for Sustainable Living, allowed students to interact with professionals from across the green school spectrum as well as peers from across the state. Eric sent me a copy of the press release they put together afterwards. Here is what some of the student attendees had to say about their experience:
"At the R.I. Sustainable Schools Summit I attended a workshop on Nutrition and the Farm to School System put on by KidsFirst, an organization which works to make school lunch more nutritious.  Today in schools it’s mandated that 50% of all grains be whole wheat and many of the unhealthy food options have been eliminated.  The aim of this workshop was to try to incorporated local farm products into our everyday lives.  The importance of buying local was emphasized greatly.  Farm Fresh RI and the Market have developed a service and are now attempting to supply “non-stop” convenience store with fresh produce from local farms.  Since Tiverton doesn’t have a grocery store, this may be something the Green Team could look into because Green Team isn’t just about increasing the sustainability of the school but the community as well."
>> Chantal Galipeau
"'Tools for Schools' is a system that works to create better indoor air quality.  It has been discovered that bad air in schools has actually affected the health of people who breathe it on a daily basis.  Both teachers and students have gotten sick from the pollutants in the air.  Tools for Schools proposes that schools should seek a solution to the air problem.  They recommend putting dehumidifiers and other air cleaners throughout the school. This small act can reduce the amount of “bad air” greatly.  The better the air, the better the health of the people who breathe the air."
>> Lauren Rollings
"I attended the workshop entitled “Smaller Footprints = Big Savings” and learned about things schools and households are doing to limit their impact on the earth while saving money in the process.  Many schools are starting to appoint “energy managers” to the staff; in fact we heard earlier in the morning from Karen Verrengia, an energy manager for the Cranston School Department who ran this workshop and shared ideas and resources through which she has saved tens of thousands of dollars for Cranston taxpayers and untold harm to the earth. Free services include, which brings awareness to elementary schools through “Max Man” visits and lessons, as well as, , and which all help individuals, families and schools track energy use.  I hope to explore with The Green Team this year things we could do here at the high school including fixing thermostats and monitoring more closely light usage."
>> Maddie McGreavy
"The No Child Left Inside Coalition (NCLI) was recently established to improve environmental literacy----or the understanding of the systems of the natural world---in Americans.  This group aims to improve student achievement through hands-on outdoor activities that contribute to healthy lifestyles.  Currently, they are hoping to pass the NCLI Act which will help fund and support schools with new environmental education.  If this act is passed the country will receive $100 million per year for five years to incorporate environmental education activities into schools.  Along with the RI Partnership for Children in Nature, NCLI Coalition plans to develop a curriculum for elementary schools this Fall.  For more information visit"
>> Alex Azevedo
Beyond the students, Eric has his eye on partnering with several colleagues to develop a new multidisciplinary unit on the environment this year, inspired by attending the “Growing the Green Curriculum” session at the conference.

I'm extremely encouraged by what The Green Team is doing and hope that we all can find ways to support their efforts. Now that our oldest is in the first grade, I'm interested in exploring what can be done at the elementary level to bolster eco-education curricula and keep the pipeline of next-generation eco-caretakers strong.

(*Full Disclosure: Eric is Sara's cousin as well as being a long-time friend of mine.)


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