Our 2011 Contest Winners Dare to Dream in Green!
We're delighted to announce the 2011 "What's Your Green Dream School?" Contest winners:
Valley Oak Elementary in Fresno.
Entries came from all over California, from elementary, middle, and high schools, from public, private and charter schools -- and they all have great plans for greening their schools and our world. We selected winners based on diversity of geographic location, type of school, demographics of the school and community, the inspiration of their dream and whether it could serve as models for other schools, and whether their Green Team could benefit from our training. It was just too hard to stop at two winners, so once again, we chose a finalist as well:
"We at New Leaf Paper congratulate all the participants in the Green Dream School contest! Nothing is more important to a healthy, happy world than inspiring the next generation to create positive visions for the future,
and work to make them happen."
Jeff Mendelsohn, Founder & Chair, New Leaf Paper
"The Green Schools Initiative contest is a wonderful way to engage students
and encourage them toward activities that benefit our planet.
Congratulations to the winners! "
Kathy Evans, VP of Marketing, Topflight
Now discover why their green dreams were irresistible!
Creative Arts Charter School, San Francisco
"Creative Arts Charter School (CACS) intends to take an innovative approach to greening our schoolyard with elements that are impermanent and transportable. Modeled after San Francisco's Pavement to Parks program, in which the City has quickly converted large swaths of asphalt into temporary parks that can be dismantled relatively easily, CACS seeks to transform a portion of our vast and bleak blacktop schoolyard into a natural play space and verdant learning garden that can be transported if necessary, leaving the blacktop intact. "
"For years the CACS community has yearned for a garden -- to bring the school's creative spirit out of doors and literally grow it from the ground up. Yet due to our status as a charter school we have had a particularly hard row to hoe." Charter schools must annually reapply to use school district sites and San Francisco Unified School District often needs to maintain flexible use of their sites because of the tenuous nature of the charter lease.
CACS is committed to encouraging imaginative play and providing our students a place to learn about ecological processes, so the CACS Green Team is getting creative about how to build a natural play space and learning garden on top of the blacktop! By building on top of the existing blacktop with elements that can be transported to a future site if necessary, we hope to serve as a model for school playgrounds everywhere, especially where tearing up the blacktop is not viable.
CACS teachers are eager to integrate environmental education activities into their curriculum, including student-led environmental audits and garden lessons. A Green Schools Initiative grant would be our first "seed money" and an invaluable step toward growing our dream of a transportable garden.
Valley Oak Elementary, Fresno
"Our school is located in an area that desperately needs green initiatives. Our area has bad air pollution, high crime and obesity rates, and really not much local GREEN role models!"
"Our Green Team was born in the beginning of 2011. Everything started with two moms' 'little big green dream' for their children's school. They started meeting with a few others in February 2011. We began dreaming and brainstorming together."
"We are a bunch of people with many green ideas and currently working on different initiatives to make our BIG GREEN DREAM a reality, but at the same time, we wanted to find something special to focus our efforts -- we wanted something that everybody could perceive positively, something to reflect our values and vision, something to call our "green team project." Today our group has many more members; about 8 parents, 3 teachers, and the GATE program students. We can say that our group itself reflects our diverse school community."
"Our Green Dream includes the school campus, the students and their learning, and the wider community. We want our school to be come a model for other schools in the area: toxics-free, waste-free, healthy food, green space, environmental education, celebrating our planet, and building community partners."
"We have already created a collaborative relationship with Clovis Unified Maintenance Department to discuss green cleaning, reducing toxics, and indoor air quality. We participated in Earth Day Fresno County Art Contest and a walk/bike to school day."
"We want to organize a school garden and a farm-to-school program -- perfect for our agricultural community. We have identified a local organic farm that is willing to support our school, and a master gardener that's helping with the plans. We have fenced an area and brought water to the site and have a small greenhouse."
"We also want to create a "Green Heroes Program" to engage and recognize our students. A grant will help us get some other tools and things we need for the garden and help us build the Green Heroes program. We think the garden and Green Heroes will facilitate catalyzing and implementing environmental and sustainable education at our school."
"We're very conscious that we are green-dreaming BIG! We know that some changes will take more time than others...some changes go far beyond our direct control, but for sure we're ready to work hard, because this is what we want to do to be part of the green movement and save the planet! The training from Green Schools Initiative will help us to implement our programs in the best way."
Finalist: "It All Started with a Baggie"
Balboa Gifted/High Ability Magnet School, Northridge
"It all started with a baggie. You know the kind, the little plastic zipper style bags we have all used for our kids lunches at one time or another. This particular baggie was blowing in the wind at my daughter's schoolyard. As I picked it up to put it in the trash I noticed that the can was literally full of these baggies."
"I started to wonder what happens to all those hundreds of baggies? After some online research, I was deeply shocked to learn that there are, in fact, BILLIONS of these baggies used every year in the United States alone. Sadly, none of them can be recycled by traditional curbside recycling and many end up in our oceans and waterways."
"After more research, I found a company called TerraCycle that upcycles baggies into decking, outdoor furniture and many other useful products. Because TerraCycle works closely with schools, they have other collection brigades that were perfect for our school, including glue stick and juice pouch recycling."
"We began collecting the baggies last year and we were thrilled with the results. Not only were the children dutifully emptying their bags and putting them into the collection bins, but they also grasped the importance of what they were doing. Based on the success of this baggie collection, we decided to form a Balboa Magnet Green Team."
"Our Green Team was formed in September 2011 and is made up of a group of dedicated parents, staff and students. In addition to collecting baggies, we collect glue sticks, water bottles and ink cartridges. We held our first "Stop, Drop and Recycle" event on October 7th, 2011.
"We thought if the kids could be so dedicated about their recycling at school, why not bring the message home? On the First Friday of every month, our Green Team will be out at the carpool drop-off lane to collect recycling. Our first collection was a true success and it was a joy to watch car after car pulling up and handing out bags of recyclables to our Green Team. So, now, we have our Green Team, and we truly do have a Green Dream for our school!
"We have relied upon donated bins to collect our trash and we often hear that the bins are not easy to locate on campus. Our dream is to set up one distinct recycling center where our students and families can drop off their recyclable items with ease...with well-labeled containers in a secure, dedicated area.
Want to start a Green Team at your school and
bring your green dreams to life?
Use our Tips for Starting a Green Team
to establish a Green Team that includes parents, teachers, students, and administrators. Then work with your Green Team to develop your "green dream" for your school -- it could be a big dream that may take a few years to achieve, or it could be a small one achievable in this school year.
The key is to get started!
Many Thanks to our Generous Prize Donors:
100% recycled paper notebooks from Top Flight and New Leaf Paper
|Biobased hand sanitizer and soaps from CleanWell|
|Nutritious organic snacks from Clif Bar
|Stainless steel reusable water bottles from Klean Kanteen
|Training and support from Green Schools Initiative|