Earlier this week, an article in the local paper noted that a local school had been recognized as one of 18 "Green School certified" schools in the state of Michigan. I wasn't familiar with the program (in part because this is the first year of the program), but I quickly found that rather than a building program, it is instead an educational program for the students.
The Green School program requires a degree of involvement from the school's students in a variety of green projects in order to obtain the certification. A school is eligible for this certification if it completes at least 10 criteria from a list of programs including such obvious green steps as recycling paper, reusing magazines from the library, and holding an Earth Day event. But the list also includes more ambitious projects such as establishing a natural Michigan garden project with native plants, holding solar power presentations or experiments, such as a solar cookout, doing energy audits of their classrooms, and even making improvements to their classrooms as a result of the energy audits.
Participating in a printer cartridge recycling program or a cellular telephone recycling program (both of which can also help the school to earn money) are also suggestions on the list.
All of these programs help to bring environmental awareness to the classroom, and provide practical examples the students can learn from. Students take leadership in getting the programs adopted in their schools.
"With all the environmental stuff that has been going on, all the rising problems, I just wanted to chip in and do my part for the community,'' Pendleton said. Individual efforts, such as recycling plastic, can add up, he said. "It's all the small things that people could do but sometimes just don't take the time to do.''
For Donahue, global warming is the thing to worry about. "We need a big focus on global warming – anything that can help that,'' Donahue said.
The state webpage with information about the program (PDF) is less than two pages long but has a list of 20 programs for students to participate in. Teachers looking for ideas for introducing some green programs to their classes may find this a useful list to work from. There are also a list of resources attached. A number of them are specific to Michigan, though corresponding sites (such as state conservation districts, state endangered plants, etc.) for other states should be easy enough to find.