Green Schools Summit encourages local students to take leadership roles in their communities

Building a 'green' foundation

timestamp icon
category icon Life

Hallway passes made from used Starbucks gift cards. A nontoxic, inexpensive cleaner. Recycling bottlecaps instead of throwing them in the garbage.These were just a few of the ideas shared by students at the second annual Clark County Summit for Washington Green Schools.

Students from Grass Valley Elementary School, Skyridge and Liberty middle schools, and Hayes Freedom High School participated in the day-long event last Tuesday, along with their schools’ Green Team advisors.

The Green Team is a group of students and mentors who are dedicated to conservation.

Currently, Skyridge Middle School and Grass Valley Elementary School lead the effort as level two certified schools. There are only a total of 10 in the state. According to Green Team advisors, hours and hours of volunteer time goes into documenting, auditing and completing paperwork to achieve certification.

By the end of the year, Skyridge is expected to achieve level three status, making it one of only five schools in the state with that designation. The Washington Green Schools program levels range from one to five and include energy, healthy school buildings, transportation, waste and recycling, and water.

Certification at each level is achieved by choosing a focus category and completing key steps. These include forming a Green Team, completing an assessment and related lasting change, verifying results, and sharing them.

After getting certified, a school can choose to advance to the next level, or renew at the current level. Certification lasts for two school years. To certify at the next level, a school chooses a new category, completes the corresponding assessment, implements a ‘lasting change’ and verifies its impact, and takes action in the four other categories.

Gayle Cooper, Skyridge Green Team coordinator, enjoyed the opportunity for teachers and students to collaborate together at the summit.

“It was amazing how many schools were there,” Cooper said.

“And I was very happy to see Grass Valley, Liberty and Hayes there as well. Green schools save our district $6,000 a year.”

The summit also included students from elementary, middle and high schools across Clark County.

“It was a very open and friendly environment,” Cooper said. “It was fun seeing the kids in elementary through high school and how they approached the ideas of working to be more environmentally sound.”

A bus to and from the event at the Clark County Water Resource Center was provided by Erin Rowland at Clark County Solid Waste.

“She gives us so much organizational support,” Cooper said. “When we were first starting the Green Schools program at Skyridge, she came in and talked to the teachers, and convinced some who were uncertain to try it.”

Students who attended the summit enjoyed collaborating with each other and participating in green-themed activities.

“It was fun just interacting with the different schools and all learning about the same thing,” said Skyridge seventh-grader Finn Dewars.

Added seventh-grader Sarah Wells Moran, “I want to save the environment and not have a big hole in the ozone. This is a good way to do it.”

“I thought it would be fun, and it was,” said seventh-grader Lydia Ross-Macleod.

Skyridge math teacher and Green Team facilitator Star Moran said this year’s summit was an opportunity to speak with other teachers who are helping to create change at their schools.

“This year’s summit set the foundation for student representatives to take leadership roles in their perspective schools and the community as it relates to sustainability,” she said.