Tyrone Elementary gets ‘emerald’ status for environmental programs
Taking on Earth-friendly projects like starting a recycling program has helped Tyrone Elementary in Harper Woods to be named a “green school” by Wayne County four years in a row.
Posted March 22, 2017
HARPER WOODS — Tyrone Elementary School in Harper Woods has earned an emerald green status from Wayne County for the fourth year in a row for its efforts toward being an environmentally conscious school.
The green statuses are determined through the Wayne County Department of Public Services and its partner, the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency, although several counties throughout Michigan run a similar program. There are five categories each school has to make strides in to improve its school and community. They are environmental protection, recycling, energy conservation, miscellaneous and self-proposed change.
Schools are given “green” status for earning 10-14 points, “emerald” status for earning 15-19 points and “evergreen” status for earning 20 or more points. Points are determined by the number of projects each school completes in the five categories.
“We have a Green Team made up of two teachers and some students, and there are certain projects you have to do to register to become a green school,” said Cheryl Puzdrakiewicz, the principal of Tyrone Elementary. “We put up a bat box, we have recycling projects, they’ve made videos for the students about how to not waste energy. It’s all to help educate the kids and make the community better.”
The two teachers leading the Green Team are Michelle Smith and Jennifer Wilusz. They have led the students of Tyrone in a variety of Earth-friendly programs.
“We recycle cellphones, batteries, markers, paper, plastic and other materials,” said Wilusz. “We put in water bottle filling stations. We also decided to ‘recycle’ books with a free library of donated books, which we decorated and set up. You can bring a book you’re not reading and then take another one.
“We also had talks about the importance of reusing and recycling plastic bags and bottles. We also talked about fuel cells and built cars using them at an after-school program, and this let us talk about alternative energy. DTE Energy talked to our fourth-graders about alternative energy as well. We’ll be participating in the Rouge River project in May and teach them about the watershed, and we will test what the water quality is. We also set up animal habitats, like bat houses, and began gardens on school grounds.”
The Tyrone Green Team donated money to the Rouge River project and adopted a red panda through the Detroit Zoo.
Smith and Wilusz got the program going at Tyrone, believing it would be a good fit for their students.
“I had been doing something similar at my old school, and when I came here, me and another teacher decided it would be a good project to get going at Tyrone,” said Wilusz.
Tyrone officials were notified March 1 that they had been named an emerald school. They had to complete three projects from each of the five categories.
“It’s amazing that we became an emerald school as fast as we did this year,” said Puzdrakiewicz. “The kids are really committed to it. Now there are visable changes in the school, like water bottle filling stations and our community library, that are making a real difference in the lives of students.”
The Tyrone administrators and Green Team leaders said this work is good for the students, the school, the community and the whole planet.
“We only have one Earth, and it’s important to get kids involved, and we need to work to ensure children will have a place to live,” said Wilusz. “You have to just put your feet on the ground and find how your school and your students can work to make the world a better place. A lot of kids at the school never experienced activities like taking water samples, and it gives them a boost to their education.”
About the author
Staff Writer Brendan Losinski covers Harper Woods and Northeast Detroit as well as Franklin, Bingham Farms and Beverly Hills; Birmingham Public Schools and Bloomfield Hills Schools. Brendan has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2016 and graduated from Oakland University.
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