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Green with envy: Why isn’t LHS a Green School?

When rival school, Oakdale High School was named a Green School, in May 2021, I started thinking. Why aren’t more schools in FCPS working to become Green School certified?

Change is being put in too the hands of Gen Z. Luckily, Gen Z cares and want to make a change to better the earth. In a study, Porter Novelli/Cone Gen Z Purpose Study, it was discovered in a sample of 1,026 people apart of Gen Z, 87% are worried for the environment and the planets health.

Environmental science teacher and leader of the Green movement at Oakdale High School, Elizabeth Nave, believes that when it comes to the environment, students and the younger generations need to take the charge in environmental change. Specific instruction and awareness activities need to begin in elementary school in order to leave an impact and sense of normalcy in taking extra steps to be more eco-friendly as children.

Oakdale’s Green School team meet up and pose for a picture after being recognized as a Green School. (Bavan Nadarajah, Sam Starrs, Paige Smith, Emma Brenecki, Catherine Brennan, Elizabeth Nave)

Nave said, “It’s hard to teach teenagers how to compost because teenagers get habits early on. I think that it should be an FCPS thing, something that is in our science curriculum that starts in the elementary school. Not just composting, but the whole Green School initiative because you guys [the young generations] are the ones who are going to make the change.”

What is a Green School?

It’s a school that supports global sustainability in every way. A green school begins with the future in mind, designing a learning experience for students that will prepare them to lead the world toward a healthier, cleaner, more sustainable future.

Becoming a Green School isn’t a very difficult task, but it is a lengthy process that takes place over a outlined two years. Green Schools works to achieve three pillars:

  • Reduce environmental impacts and costs 

Green schools reduce their environmental impact by reducing energy and water use, cutting back on fossil fuel used in transportation, reducing waste headed to landfill, and protecting natural habitats

  • Improve occupants’ health and performance

Green schools protect student teacher health by ensuring a clean and healthy indoor environment in the school, as well as providing programs and services for good nutrition and physical activity.

  •  Increase sustainability literacy

Green schools teach students about sustainability and the environment, giving them the tools to solve the global challenges we face now and in the future. Green schools support sustainability literacy through curriculum and instructional practices that are interdisciplinary, place-based and rotted in real-world context.

Do you think all FCPS schools should be required to become a Green School?

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This whole initiative for schools all leads back to passion. A Green School initiative requires teachers and students that show a passion in making their school a Green School. That is because becoming a Green School is all dependent on the faculty and staff to make change.

Nave said, “We had around nine or ten students that took the initiative to become a Green School. This process all began when two students showed a true passion for Oakdale being a Green School, so they kind of spearheaded the whole process with me.”

Linganore High School already has many building modifications that help the process of becoming a Green School. Just like Oakdale, Linganore has motion sensing lights, air dryers in the bathroom, and skylights for natural lighting.

At Oakdale, food waste reduction was something they tackled while working to become a Green School. They installed a composting system at their school in order to lower their landfill waste.

Their system is new and, according to Nave, has been working well with the limited numbers of students from the hybrid schedule. They hope that success continues with an increase in students next school year.

Linganore’s student run community club, plans to work with the faculty to install composting at the school during the 2021-2022 school year.

Hopefully in the future we see more FCPS schools take the steps to be named a Green School.

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