State Environmental Officials Honor 93 Classes Across the Commonwealth, Including Canton, with 2010-11 Green Team Awards
Students in 93 classes from 85 schools across the Commonwealth, including two at Canton's Dean Luce School, received special recognition for their outstanding environmental actions as members of the “Green Team,” a statewide environmental education program promoted by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).
Grade five teachers Denise Cassidy and Bridget Wade at the Luce and Garrett Clancy, a grade four teacher, won wristbands.
Students of any age can participate in the Green Team program, an initiative comprised of students who share the goal of reducing pollution and protecting the environment. Nearly 65,000 students in more than 300 classes at 252 schools joined the Green Team this school year.
Students took part in a range of activities that included expanding school recycling programs, starting a compost pile used in gardens where food was grown for the school cafeteria and increasing energy efficiency in their communities. The activities incorporated all disciplines, from science and mathematics to reading, writing and art into classroom and non-classroom related projects.
“Green Team teachers and students become empowered with tools they can put into practice at school, home and in our communities to bring about positive environmental change,” said EEA Secretary Richard Sullivan. “I congratulate all the teachers and students who did outstanding work during the past school year to raise environmental awareness through Green Team activities.”
Participating classes were all entered into a drawing for prizes, and 93 classes received prizes for their efforts (see list below). Ten schools won grand prizes, and will receive school-wide performances by environmental educators Jack Golden, Peter O'Malley and Earthtunes.
“The Green Team educational program helps students actively discover ways to protect our natural resources,” said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell. “Green Team students develop creative approaches to environmental stewardship and make a big difference in their schools and communities with their energy conservation, recycling and pollution prevention efforts.”
Participating teachers also received a Green Team Kit containing classroom posters, lesson plans, recycling tips and access to a library of other resources. In addition, 50 schools received recycling equipment from the Green Team to initiate or expand school recycling programs. Eleven schools received “Idle-Free Zone” signs from the Green Team that serve to visually remind drivers to turn off their engines while waiting in the schoolyard.
“There was a great response from teachers and bus drivers,” said teacher Kerry Moniz of Monument High School in South Boston.
At Boston Latin School, students founded the Youth Climate Action Network and have since initiated a statewide campaign for sustainability education.
“Many Boston Latin School graduates are now pursuing environmental studies in college,” said teacher Cate Arnold. “As the oldest school in America, greening Boston Latin School has the potential to serve as a powerful example and inspiration, demonstrating how green projects can and should be incorporated into even our oldest institutions and learning systems.”
“Each year we take one more step as a school and as individuals towards reducing our carbon footprint,” said teacher Stephanie Scherr of Narragansett Regional High School in Baldwinville (Templeton). “The Green Team program is awesome because it lets students know what other people their age are doing.”
“Not only have all of the students at Cottage School become aware of ways they can reduce their carbon footprints, we have trained 25 members of the Green Team to keep awareness through a lunchroom recycling and composting program,” said Jackie Mann, Principal of Cottage Street School in Sharon.
Teacher Kate Fitzmaurice of McCarthy-Towne School in Acton reported, “Our team now has recycling in every classroom for paper and plastic and we have cut energy costs by 4 percent so far this year.”
“Students did a project researching an environmental issue where they looked at causes, solutions and things they could do personally to help the environmental issue,” said sixth-grade teacher John Hodsdon of the Holten Richmond Middle School in Danvers. “I believe students benefit from seeing how their behavior can affect the environment on a very local, personal level.”
At the Hayden McFadden School in New Bedford, “Students learn their role in creating a sustainable landscape in an urban setting,” said teacher Beth Andrews. “They come to realize the life cycle of items that can be composted, and those that are here for many years. They gained science skills, as well as lifelong learning.”
In Wellesley, students, faculty and staff were very active in “greening” their schools. Classes from Sprague Elementary, Fiske Elementary and Wellesley Middle School created educational videos, held litter-less lunches, promoted reuse, and learned more about how to incorporate green habits into daily life.
“Students truly enjoy being caregivers/caretakers of the Earth and take their role seriously,” said Mrs. Chaput and Mrs. Jones, 3rd grade teachers at Coburn Elementary in West Springfield.
Students at the Whitman-Hanson Regional High School gained experience in bringing about positive change by working with the school administration and sharing their knowledge with younger students.
“Students have not only been able to advocate for better recycling and reduction measures at the high school, but will be taking their lessons ‘on-the-road’ to the elementary schools, where they will continue to educate others and help increase the environmentally responsible measures of our schools,” said teacher Lisa Shea.
Long-time Green Team member Johanna Korpita of Helen E. James School in Williamsburg summarized her students’ achievements, noting, “My class has had many opportunities to practice their public speaking skills. For a 7 year old to be able to get up in front of a large class of 12 year olds and educate them about topics they are passionate about is priceless. This lesson will stay with them forever! They are also much more aware of what they buy, what they use, and how they can reuse things. They are more conscientious consumers.”
More than 6,400 students pledged to reduce, reuse, recycle; walk, bike, carpool or take public transportation; and conserve energy and water to help protect the environment. Many of the students encouraged their parents to take an idling-reduction pledge and turn off car engines while parked or waiting. Other students tracked the trash generated in their home for one month, subtracting the amount of trash their family eliminated via recycling. Other activities included improving school recycling or composting programs, promoting the switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, writing to elected officials, planting school gardens, seeking alternatives to Styrofoam lunch trays, and creating signs, posters, videos and web pages to raise environmental awareness in their school community.
All participating classes received Certificates of Recognition, “Trash Terminator” bookmarks or pencils made from recycled products. A grand prize drawing was held among classes that achieved the highest level of participation. Grand prizes included: a performance by Jack Golden, entitled “Garbage is My Bag”; a recycling magic show by Peter O'Malley; and an environmental concert by Earthtunes. Other Green Team prizes included Green Team wrist bands, information wheels, and “Compost Matters” activity books.
To learn more or to participate in The Green Team program next school year, teachers may sign up on-line at: www.thegreenteam.org.