ROSEVILLE — The Macomb County Green Schools Program named Roseville Middle School the top green school in the county during an awards ceremony March 26.
Under the program, there are three tiers of sustainability and environmentally sound practices for schools. The highest rank is evergreen, followed by emerald and then green.
According to a press release from Courtney Flynn, Macomb County communications coordinator, the top designees are selected through a points system. They earn points for their environmentally conscious initiatives and the amount of student and community involvement.
Kim Glushyn, Roseville Middle School teacher and one of the heads of the school’s Green Team, said this was the first year that the school had gotten involved in trying to be more environmentally friendly. As such, she was surprised that they received the top green honor.
“You could have blown me over with a feather, because I was blown away we were chosen, since this was our first year,” Glushyn said. “To be the top school in the green category, I was pretty geeked.”
She said that the idea sprouted last year, when she and a few other teachers tried to come up with activities to keep the school’s top students interested during homeroom hours. During homeroom hours, most students work on academic areas that give them trouble.
She said they had come up with a program — based around music, architectural design and engineering, and the humanities — when Principal David Rice asked her, Donna Robinson and Matt LaMontagne if they could come up with a community and school project that students could work on, too.
“We came up with the idea of becoming a green school, and Mr. Rice was very enthusiastic about that and gave us his full support,” Glushyn said. “We started brainstorming and looking into it, and it has its own energy now, because we started off with a good, solid base.”
Glushyn said that, in the first year, the school has adopted an endangered animal — the Amur leopard — and has taken to recycling a variety of materials, from batteries and cellphones to markers and printer cartridges. The biggest project the school has taken on, however, is the community garden.
With the help of Macomb Fresh’s Rob Blehm, Glushyn said the students have learned how to set up a garden by setting down cardboard, leaves, compost and straw, then leaving that material over the winter for earthworms to consume and, in the process, prepare the soil for planting in the spring. The seeds will then start growing in the greenhouse before being transferred to the ground once temperatures warm up.
Glushyn said the idea is to help the kids learn about sustainable growing practices, and as the vegetables and herbs will be used in the school’s L.B. Williams vocational restaurant program, there will be a secondary educational advantage.
Finally, she said the science classes have been teaching students about different environmental issues, focusing on regional water issues and projects based on making “solar ovens” with cardboard and foil, and birdhouses shaped like famous architectural structures, which will be installed in the school courtyard later this spring.
“It’s really good, because the kids are really taking a stake in it,” Glushyn said. “I took video of the kids when they were putting down the ground for the garden, and they are just too enthusiastic. You have these way-too-cool eighth-graders who don’t like getting their hands dirty, and they were up to their elbows in it.”
With the seventh-graders getting involved, she said they could then come back next year and have a buy-in for the garden program.
Macomb County Board of Commissioners Chairman Dave Flynn praised the program during the ceremony March 26.
“This program is unique in nature because it instills an entrepreneurial spirit in students at an early age. It is invaluable to their education and future career in public service or in the private sector,” Flynn said. “As leaders, our goals should be to ensure that all of our students are able to get a quality education, that we instill a sense of community and provide our students with an ownership in not just our future, but their future. That is why Green Schools is such an innovative initiative — because it incorporates those three underlying principles.”
According to Flynn’s press release, the Green Schools Program has been around statewide since 2006, with the Macomb County commissioners sponsoring it in the county for six years. For this year, 22 schools received the green designation, 43 received emerald, and 61 received evergreen.
Looking ahead, Glushyn said she is hoping to move up to the emerald rank next year, and the school has applied for grant money to get solar panels, which could in turn be used to power the school greenhouse. She said the students have been really enthusiastic about the program as a whole.
“They’re really excited about the green designation,” she said. “I don’t know how many of them recycle at home, or are aware of the issues with renewing things and recycling, but this is a way for them to at least learn about it and maybe get more involved when they become adults. It’s making future citizens more responsible.”
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