We support local schools in their efforts to raise environmental awareness and make our schools more sustainable. These schools include New Trier High School and District 39’s Central School, Harper School, McKenzie School, Romona School, Highcrest Middle School and Wilmette Junior High School. In addition to the public schools, we also work with St. Joseph, St Francis Xavier and Baker Demonstration School. Currently, all these schools have environmental representatives that are involved in promoting various green activities.
The Village-wide Environmental Awareness Committee consists of representatives from all Wilmette schools. The goal of the committee is to work together to share ideas and create consistency and continuity in the environmental programs from grade school to junior high. For example, currently all District 39 schools are implementing the Do One Thing (DOT) program. “Do One Thing” is a short and simple message that helps kids focus on taking just one environmental step. The DOT idea was inspired by the Alliance for Climate Education.
In addition to year-round activities, the environmental committees are involved in two major events during the year – Environmental Awareness Week in October and International Earth Week in April. The environmental committees plan creative ways to promote environmental awareness through fun activities that are age-appropriate and engaging.
Wilmette schools representatives and Go Green Wilmette’s school liaison participate in the Area Schools Environmental Awareness Group (ASEAG) – a collaboration between dozens of schools from districts from all over the north shore, started by the Joseph Sears School environmental representatives in Kenilworth.
Here are some examples of the programs that are being promoted by our local schools and their environmental awareness representatives:
- Central School will be focusing on Do One Thing to Reduce and offering opportunities each day to help the kids reduce something (electricity use, water use, etc). Their week’s plans are on their webpage.
- Central School was awarded a $200 Waste Reduction Grant from Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) to replenish reusable silverware for classroom party packs and for silverware and compostable cups in the cafeteria.
- Central School diverted 106 pairs of athletic shoes from the landfill during EA week.
- Central produced 80% less lunchroom trash by composting their leftovers during EA week.
- McKenzie School also participates in the village wide DOT program (a promise to Do One Thing for the environment) Sample messages: I can drink water from a water fountain, OR Use a glass water bottle OR Turn off lights.)
- McKenzie School also offered a Halloween costume exchange, an athletic shoe recycling drive, a Compost Day and a No Waste Day in the lunchroom. Art teachers have been working on an art show using recycled materials and the Brownie troop has been giving water conservation tips during school announcements. The school also participated in the 17th International Walk to School Day. In addition, they have been working to promote no-idling around the school.
- During EA week McKenzie families donated 573 pairs of shoes. Sixty four pairs went to Nike to be recycled into courts and playground surfaces and the remaining shoes went to Share Your Soles.
- Romona School has a Waste-Free Wednesday program in place. Through this program students can fill out a raffle ticket every month, and the winners can pick from a variety of reusable lunch containers and water bottles. This promotes awareness for recycling and reusing. In addition, their Red Dot system is up and running. This is a system to reduce paper and toner usage by only sending home one mailing per family (versus per student) when a school-wide mailing needs to go home. This saves over 100 copies each time the system is used.
- The Romona students made pledges on circles (dots) of paper for the DOT (Do One Thing) program, and put them up on the bulletin board in the school lobby. For Halloween, they participated in a Halloween costume donation drive.
- Harper also participates in the DOT program and has composted for Earth week. The school also participated in the 17th Annual Walk to School day.
- Harper School collected batteries for recycling, used shoes that were donated to both Connections in Evanston and Nike and organized a Halloween costume swap.
- The School hosted a “Walking School Bus” with designated walking routes. Each route had a tent school bus that students carried and signs to support walking rather than driving to school.
- Harper conducted a “Waste Less” lunch contest.
Highcrest Middle School
- Environmental Awareness PTO Representatives are currently working with Principal Palzet to eliminate single-use water bottles from the cafeteria and replace them with a system of reusable cups. They received a grant from SWANCC to purchase reusable water dispensers and cups.
Wilmette Junior High School
- Wilmette Junior High School PTO representatives are planning to create a bin in the lobby that visually demonstrates the amount of plastic bottles used by the students. They are creating monthly “green themes” with accompanying recycling and collective drives and opportunities for students to learn about an environmental topic. One theme was food waste with a drive to collect for the New Trier Township food pantry. Another was “Fast Fashion” looking at the inefficiencies of the disposable fashion industry.
In addition to supporting PTO Environmental Awareness Committee activities, District 39 schools are involved in projects to make the schools more sustainable. In 2010, the School Board adopted a “Green Resolution” in 2010, recommended by the Community Review Committee (CRC.) The resolution solidified the District’s commitment to promoting environmentally friendly initiatives. In 2013, District 39 presented an update on green initiatives to the School Board.
District 39 schools also work to connect our students to school gardens.