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Students go green around Macomb County

By: Andy Kozlowski, Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published April 15, 2019

 Tori Trumper, a seventh-grader at Seneca Middle School in Macomb Township, stands with Macomb County Commissioner Veronica Klinefelt after receiving her award for the winning Macomb County Green Schools logo design April 11.

Tori Trumper, a seventh-grader at Seneca Middle School in Macomb Township, stands with Macomb County Commissioner Veronica Klinefelt after receiving her award for the winning Macomb County Green Schools logo design April 11.

Photo by Deb Jacques

MACOMB COUNTY — For the 11th year, members of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners, in conjunction with the Macomb Intermediate School District, joined together to highlight the environmentally friendly efforts of students, teachers and staff at 122 schools throughout the county.

“We, as county leaders, are showing students that we care about our environment, our community and our future,” Macomb County Board of Commissioners Chair Bob Smith said.

Of the 122 schools honored at the April 11 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,” Macomb County Commissioner Veronica Klinefelt 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.”

Fifteen St. Clair Shores schools were honored for achieving some level of Green School status.

Justin Cabe, the principal at Princeton Elementary in Lakeview Public Schools, said that being on the shores of Lake St. Clair gives them an opportunity to teach students about how important it is to be stewards of the environment.

The school recycles in every single room, including foil and paper products in the lunchroom. In addition, the school went entirely green in 2014 by eliminating flyers that were sent home with students in lieu of emails sent to parents. Parents who do not have access to email can request paper copies, but Cabe said that nearly never happens anymore.

“It was important for us to kick it off with the students to show how we can make a difference in Princeton,” Cabe said. “St. Clair Shores, we’re a harbor town … so we participate in the recycling programs, the cleaning of the Nautical Mile, the watershed and the whole lake.”

In South Lake Schools, Mike Chmielewski said that Elmwood Elementary has been participating in the Green Schools program for six years.

In addition to recycling, he said that they are working to reduce waste in the lunchroom. The third-grade teacher and student council adviser said that some of the students he works with want to look into eliminating the use of straws.

“A lot of the things we’re doing are looking at the future,” he said. “Bringing awareness to that in the school.”

South Lake Middle School also recycles and tries to bring awareness to the students about eliminating wastefulness.

“We’re also trying to reduce the waste, not just with students, but with teachers too,” said Karen Sahadi, a science and math teacher who co-sponsors the green team at the school with art teacher Diane Prainito.

“They have to realize, even at a young age, they can make a difference,” Sahadi said. “We talk a lot about how waste can get into our waterways, the Great Lakes.”

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 the top Evergreen school.

At the Lakeview Early Childhood Center, the school has taken a long space that was filled with rocks, removed them and asked students to bring in flowers to be planted in the space instead.

“They’re responsible for watering it. It’s right next to the playground,” said Katy Neumann, the director of preschool programs and elementary curriculum for Lakeview Public Schools. She said that the children love watching their plants grow.

The school has also hosted a crayon drive and a used marker drive, which they then send away for recycling through Crayola.

“We really try to make it understandable to them,” Neumann said.

Teaching students to conserve energy by turning off lights and understanding the importance of energy conservation will help the students in the future.

“If we want them to do that for their lifetime, why not start now?” she said.

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 program.

Incorporating two hands forming a heart around the globe, Trumper told the Macomb County Green Schools program that, “My logo will remind you to show the Earth the respect and love it deserves by recycling and reusing.”

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.

Two additional schools were highlighted for their efforts, as well: Seneca Middle School in Chippewa Valley Schools received the Growing Green Award, and Will Lee Elementary in Richmond Community Schools was the Most Improved Green School Award winner.

To learn more and to find a complete list of winning schools, visit