St. Clair Shores students ‘go green’

Local schools, student honored for environmental efforts

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 3, 2017

 North Lake High School junior Leah Massey digs a hole to make way for new plants in the garden April 26.

North Lake High School junior Leah Massey digs a hole to make way for new plants in the garden April 26.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske


ST. CLAIR SHORES — With recycling and gardens, energy conservation and more, more than a dozen local schools have put forward the environmentally friendly efforts needed to achieve Green School status. 

Macomb County schools were honored for their efforts to learn about energy efficiency, ecology and taking care of the environment in April, with 125 schools across the county earning official Michigan Green School status. This is the ninth year that Macomb County has had the program in place, and 17 schools in St. Clair Shores earned the designation this year.

North Lake High School, an alternative high school operated by the Lake Shore Public School District, was named the top Green School in the county this year. That means the school had more points than any other Green School in the county.

Green is the first level that can be attained by schools trying to be environmentally friendly. Schools get points for different activities, like recycling or planting gardens, and are awarded designations ranging from Green to Emerald to the highest level, Evergreen. 

North Lake High School Principal Chad Johnson said that the school has achieved Emerald status in the past, but is still proud of the work its students have done to achieve Green status. 

“As far as some of the activities that we do, the recycling, the cleaning up around the community and things like that,” he said. 

Students at North Lake earn service hours to meet a graduation requirement and have begun cleaning up the yards of neighbors in their community who need assistance. 

The Green Schools initiative at North Lake began under the direction of English teacher Suzanne Karwowski, who works with science teacher Barbara Honold to help students meet the criteria.

“We have a butterfly garden here that students take care of,” Johnson said. He said they’re looking to expand their gardening with the school’s environmental science class in the future.

“By giving back and doing different things with Forgotten Harvest and other organizations like Gleaners ... it’s rewarding for students. They see that putting in the difficult time and effort does pay off,” he said. 

The butterfly garden was installed a few years ago, Honold said. 

“The idea is to teach them about pollinators and how important they are,” she said.

A butterfly bush in the garden definitely does its job, she said, and there are many butterflies attracted to the area right in front of the school’s entrance. 

Many of the students at the school haven’t had the opportunity before taking biology or environmental science at North Lake to get their hands into the dirt, Honold said, a point that was evident by squeals when students found earthworms and other bugs in the soil while they were weeding, cleaning out brush and planting perennials donated by Jack and Roselie Patrick, of Shelby Township, April 26.

The garden, Honold said, helps get the students in touch with the earth by “getting them outside helping the eco-community.”

Also honored by the county was Jefferson Middle School eighth-grader Avary Black, who designed this year’s winning logo for the Macomb County Green Schools program.

“I kind of just thought of things that are very fragile in nature and thought a monarch butterfly would be cool because I could collage it, and then I put different aspects of nature in the butterfly’s cells,” said Black, 13. 

She said she loves to draw and design, but she was very surprised to have won the contest. 

“This is definitely one of the biggest things that I’ve ever done, so it’s definitely cool that a ton of people will get to see it.”

St. Clair Shores schools achieving Green School status
• Ardmore Elementary — Emerald
• Avalon Elementary — Emerald
• Elmwood Elementary — Emerald
• Greenwood Elementary — Emerald
• Harmon Elementary — Evergreen
• Jefferson Middle School — Evergreen
• Kennedy Middle School — Evergreen
• Koepsell Education Center — Green
• Lake Shore High School — Green
• Masonic Heights Elementary — Emerald
• North Lake High School — Green
• Princeton Elementary — Evergreen
• South Lake Middle School — Evergreen
• St. Germaine Catholic School — Green
• St. Joan of Arc Catholic School — Green
• Violet Elementary — Emerald
• Wheat Educational Campus — Green
Source: Macomb County