Schools go green with gardens, waste-free lunch

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 22, 2015

 Eva Schienke, a member of the Harmon Elementary Green Team, works in the school’s nature center. The school achieved Evergreen status in the Macomb County Green Schools program for its eco-friendly efforts.

Eva Schienke, a member of the Harmon Elementary Green Team, works in the school’s nature center. The school achieved Evergreen status in the Macomb County Green Schools program for its eco-friendly efforts.

Photo provided by Georgianna Murray

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Lucky 13.
  
That’s how many schools are going green in St. Clair Shores, according to recent Green Schools awards given out by the Macomb County Board of Commissioners.

This year’s group of schools includes Green school winners Lakeview High School and Violet Elementary School; Emerald winners Ardmore Elementary School, Masonic Heights Elementary School and North Lake High School; and Evergreen winners Avalon Elementary School, St. Joan of Arc Catholic School, Greenwood Elementary School, Harmon Elementary School, Jefferson Middle School, Kennedy Middle School, Princeton Elementary School and South Lake Middle School.

The Michigan Green Schools program was introduced in 2006. Schools perform activities throughout the year that each carry a point value, and the higher the number of points, the higher the rank of the school, with Evergreen being the highest level that a school can achieve and Green the first level of achievement.

This is the second year that the Green Team at Harmon Elementary in Lakeview Public Schools has helped the school achieve the rank of Evergreen, with 25 points.

First-grade teacher Georgianna Murray said she got the school started on the path seven years ago with a lesson on public discourse. Her students, she said, decided to take a stand and recycle at the school and held a bake sale to raise money to purchase the bins. The following year, she said, they began their school’s Green Team, and five years ago they were first named a Green school by Macomb County.

Now, the school has a team of 16 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders who are supervised by seven teacher coaches collecting the recycling throughout the school during lunch and working in the school’s nature center.

“We plant native Michigan plants in there. The kids maintain it ... as a habitat for animals,” Murray said. “Make sure the bird feeder is filled and the suet and the bird bath. It’s a really nice area.”

This year, she said, they launched waste-free lunch Wednesdays, which is when they encourage all students in the school to have a lunch with as few disposable items as possible.

Because the teacher supervision is all done on a volunteer basis, the students have to apply to be part of the Green Team because they can only accep
t a limited number of students.

“They really honor their positions,” Murray said. “They really take pride in it.”

She said the students were very proud to achieve the highest rank offered.

At North Lake High School, an alternative high school in Lake Shore Public Schools, this is the fourth year that students have worked to earn Green designation and the second that it reached the second tier of Emerald status.

Suzanne Karwowski, an English teacher at the school, said the school recycles paper, has planted a Michigan butterfly garden and hosts “half-light Fridays,” where teachers turn on only one bank of classroom lights to conserve energy.

“This year, we hosted an electronics event and collected over 600 pounds of e-waste,” she said in an email message. “We have also gotten the child care program involved with an Eco Fun Day to educate future generations about recycling.”

The Macomb County Board of Commissioners has been sponsoring the Green Schools program for seven years.

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