When teachers and students at Hathaway Elementary talk about “being green,” it isn’t just idle chatter.
The school’s Green Team is saving both natural resources and money by focusing on energy conservation, as a part of the Washington Green Schools program.
Earlier in the year, the team, which is made up of students, staff and volunteers, conducted an energy audit to see where it could make the biggest impact.
By turning off the lights, computers, electrical equipment and closing blinds at night, the Green Team has saved the district approximately 50,000 killowatts of electricity in seven months. This equals approximately $3,500, without taking into account discounts or fee fluctuations.
Hathaway first-grade teacher Cathy Burrows heads up the team.
“Many of Hathaway’s students seemed concerned about our environment, and wondered how we could reduce our carbon and environmental footprint,” Burrows said. “When I saw an opportunity through the Washington Green Schools program to help students create systems for reducing energy consumption and recycling to reduce waste, it seemed to be a worthwhile endeavor. Others at Hathaway felt the same way, because our team quickly grew from one teacher to 22 students, staff and community members.”
The green team has a large chart in the school hallway that tracks energy usage and progress toward goals so that students and staff can keep track.
Burrows’ class used to need two garbage cans for all the waste, but now uses only one small can. Students have gotten into the habit of recycling and reusing paper, when possible.
“My class is so happy to be helping the environment by conserving energy and saving paper,” Burrows said.
Karen Perez, a fifth-grade teacher, is also part of the green team. Her leadership students have taken charge of the recycling program.
“The green team is a great experience for Hathaway and for our kids,” she said. “They are learning about making a positive difference in our environment first-hand. The kids have worked hard to pick up, collect, sort and recycle in all classrooms in the school twice a week.”
She added that community volunteers have been essential in the process.
“We have had two wonderful volunteers (Dave Burnham and Molly Krabbenhoft) who have given countless hours to help the kids when I am not available to supervise,” she said. “The kids have taken a leadership role to reduce the amount of garbage our school puts out. I also am working on projects where older kids will be teaching younger kids about pollutants and scientific topics that effect our Earth.”
They are student members Alyssa Barnett, Trillum Allison, Bailee Watkins, Jade Darrow, Kianna Landon, Paeton Landon, Gunnar Bjorklund, Jake Klackner and Everest Krabbenhoff; staff members Gretchen McLellan, Burrows, Chung Savoie, Laura Bolt, Lindsey Hutchins, Guy Havens, Kelli Dizmang, Perez, Debbie Mazour, Lisa Ka’aihue, and Marcia Hershaw; and community members Darcy Bjorklund, Dave Burnham and Cheryl Baumgardner.
Krabbenhoft, a fifth-grader, said being a member of the team gave him a “good feeling.”
Klackner echoed the sentiment.
“Recycling and helping the Earth is the best part,” he said.
Barnett said she is pleased with the fact that Hathaway has earned certification so quickly.
“We’ve just made Washougal history because we are the first school,” she said. “Just seeing what I’ve made a difference in locally is big.”
“Just being able to know you’re making a difference, and making the Earth cleaner and better is a good feeling.”
Students and staff members will be honored in an assembly Wednesday, where they will be given a certificate and a flag to fly at Hathaway, honoring it as a green school.