Local schools recognized for ‘green’ efforts

By: Kristyne E. Demske, Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published April 26, 2019

 Maya Konkolesky, a seventh-grader at L’Anse Creuse Middle School-South, created the winning Green Schools logo design for her school this year.

Maya Konkolesky, a seventh-grader at L’Anse Creuse Middle School-South, created the winning Green Schools logo design for her school this year.

Photo by Julie Snyder

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MACOMB COUNTY — L’Anse Creuse Public Schools and Mount Clemens Community Schools were recognized in April for their environmental efforts.

Members of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners, in conjunction with the Macomb Intermediate School District, joined together on April 11 to highlight the environmentally friendly efforts of students, teachers and staff at schools throughout the county.

“We, as county leaders, are showing students that we care about our environment, our community and our future,” said Board of Commissioners Chair Bob Smith, who is the elected representative for the 12th District on the board.

Thirty-eight school districts have participated in the Green Schools program for 10 years, or since its inception. Of the 122 schools honored at the 11th annual presentation at the Macomb Intermediate School District, 42% received Green designation, 25% achieved Emerald status and 33% were designated as Evergreen schools.

Schools achieve Green status by completing a certain number of environmentally friendly initiatives. How many programs or achievements they submit for consideration to the county determines what status level they achieve.

“We understand the time, and the effort and planning, that goes into this,” Veronica Klinefelt, Macomb County commissioner for District 3, told the gathered teachers and administrators. “Taking on an extra program like this takes a lot of effort, and I don’t think society, as a whole, shows our appreciation to you.”

She said that teaching students about caring for the Earth and making good choices will change the way they look at the world for the rest of their lives.

“They’ve learned how to conserve energy and protect resources in the environment,” Smith said. “This is not just a simple checklist of activities.”

L’Anse Creuse Middle School-South in Harrison Township earned Green school status for its ongoing recycling initiatives, energy-saving efforts and support of local farms.

Associate Principal Kevin Blum said that between January and December 2018, the school recycled 31,210 pounds of paper products. Each classroom, as well as the cafeteria, has recycle bins in which students and staff separate paper products, plastic and aluminum. Those items are then emptied into a large container outside the school and picked up by GFL Environmental.

Blum said the school also collects printer cartridges and batteries, both of which are hazardous to the environment.

“Not only do we keep those items (for recycling) here at the school, but the community and parents will drop them off,” Blum said.

Last year, the middle school was able to drop off more than 300 pounds of printer cartridges at the Office Depot on Gratiot Avenue in Clinton Township for recycling, and they regularly drop off collected batteries for recycling at Battery Giant on Hall Road.

In science class, students learn about alternative energy and energy-saving methods. Blum said that often students speak of leaving electricity running at home by not turning off the lights in a room, or leaving the television on or their video game system on even when it’s not being used.

“They’ll talk about remembering to do more to save energy around their home, including keeping showers quick, and they can even review the energy bill at home to figure out more ways to save energy,” Blum said. Also part of the science curriculum is human impact on the environment — carbon emissions and the consumption of natural resources.

All classrooms are equipped with motion sensors that turn the lights on when someone enters the room and turn off after so many minutes of no movement. The hallway lights are also automatic. The school supports local farmers through Chartwells and Coastal Produce Distributors to provide fresh, healthy food to students.

There is an animal habitat at the school, including birdhouses, and this year the school adopted a manatee through Save the Manatees, a Florida-based organization that raises awareness and funds for manatee conservation. A Going Green bulletin board informs students on the latest environmental news.

Blum said that each May, members of the National Junior Honor Society and the student council work together with township and county officials to clean up along Jefferson Avenue. They clean the school grounds four times a year, he said.

“They learn that cleanup is good for the environment, the wildlife and the watershed,” Blum said. “We’re so close to Lake St. Clair, it’s important that we work to keep (litter and debris) from the lake.

“We do a lot, and we are always working to get a little better each year,” he said.

Carkenord Elementary School in New Baltimore earned Emerald status, Green Elementary School in Chesterfield Township received Evergreen school status, L’Anse Creuse Middle School-Central in Harrison Township was given Evergreen status, L’Anse Creuse Middle School-East in New Baltimore was named an Emerald school, L’Anse Creuse Middle School-North in Macomb Township received Evergreen status, Yacks Elementary School in Harrison Township was named an Evergreen school, the Pellerin Center in Clinton Township was given Emerald status, the, Mount Clemens Montessori Academy earned Green school status, and the Macomb County Juvenile Justice Center School earned Evergreen status.

Along with honoring the schools, the commission also named the top schools in each category. Lakeview Early Childhood Center — Wheat Campus in St. Clair Shores was named the top Green school; Austin Catholic High School in Chesterfield Township was named the top Emerald school; and Amanda Moore Elementary in Romeo Community Schools was named the top Evergreen school.

The overall top Macomb County Green School was Wilkerson Elementary school in Warren Consolidated Schools. The school recycles, composts with worms, has a community garden and an energy conservation policy, and incorporates sustainable and environmentally friendly practices into its curriculum.

The board also awarded Tori Trumper, a seventh-grade student at Seneca Middle School in Chippewa Valley Schools, who created the winning logo for this year’s Green Schools program. Theresa Whitenight, of Dresden Elementary in Utica Community Schools, was named the 2019 Green Advocate Award winner for her work beginning the 4-H Outdoor Adventure Club and the Michigan Wildlife Leadership Team.

To learn more and to find a complete list of winning schools, visit www.MacombBOC.com.

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