Partying Under a Green Flag at Boston Latin
Wow, what a day in Boston, MA! On Thursday, June 9th, I had the privilege of awarding the Boston Latin School (BLS) with the Eco-Schools USA Green Flag Award! And what a celebration it was…BLS is the recipient of the second Eco-Schools USA Green Flag award, and is the first public school to receive this award in the United States. They are also the oldest public school in the country. The school decided that not only were they going to celebrate getting this award, but also celebrate everything they had done to get to this point and all of the partners that had helped them to get there.
The afternoon was hot! Almost 95 degrees outside, and inside the BLS auditorium that has no air conditioning, it was toasty. But that didn’t stop hundreds of kids from hearing from BLS Youth Climate Action Network (Youth CAN) co-presidents Rebecca Parks and Eshe Sherley, who led the school through several great visual presentations of all the school had accomplished as well as a short speech from me and the presentation of their Green Flag Award.
I have personally known and worked with the BLS Youth CAN for the past five years and was not at all surprised when their application for a Green Flag award came in the mail. This school and BLS Youth CAN has held yearly Youth Climate Action Summits which have helped other schools in the greater Boston region to reduce their carbon footprints and just this year launched a very successful zero-sort recycling pilot which reduced school waste by over 50%. This program was so successful that plans are now underway for replicating the program in the rest of the Boston public schools.
We then traveled (thankfully!) to the air conditioned library to celebrate all of the key partners that had helped BLS Youth Climate Action network and the school get to where they are as one of the greenest Eco-Schools in the world!
As headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta said, “What started out as a small afterschool club has now grown into a movement that has gained not only local recognition here in the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts, but also now national and international recognition. So much of what we’ve done here at BLS, we did not do alone, so we are here to celebrate all the great partnerships that have helped us to get here!”
This part of the celebration included highlighting a new partnership with a group of visitors from France including delegates from a student green group that had come to the Boston Latin School to learn more on how to create a grassroots effort like the Boston Youth Climate Action Network. It was fun to find out that the students were from a school in France that was also an Eco-School! Global connections are a key part of Eco-Schools!
Lastly, we ventured outside into the heat and had a great party and celebration which included a bike powered band, “Melodeego,” and the raising of the Eco-Schools Green Flag outside the Boston Public Latin School.
What an amazing day. I was reminded again of how much youth can make a difference and be such a strong force in making change.