Green Flags Fly in Illinois Schools
Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep
It was an unusually warm day in the greater Chicago region as I drove north towards Waukegan, IL in January. The temperature gauge in the car read 46 and it was only 7:30 in the morning. It was somewhat ironic that it was this warm, since I was on my way to present the Eco-Schools Green Flag award to the Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep School(CRSMCP), who had been working for four years to reduce their environmental footprint, addressing such issues as energy use, climate change and waste reduction.
At 8 a.m. every Monday morning, CRSMCP comes together to share, learn and on this day to celebrate the tremendous strides they had made as a learning community in becoming more sustainable. This small, Catholic High School and their environmental club have been able to reduce their energy use by over 15% and their waste by over 50%. Over the past three years, CRSMCP has participated in the HSBC Eco-Schools Climate Initiative which is focused on developing a global network of schools actively participating in learning about climate change and finding ways to reduce carbon emissions and energy use in their schools and local communities.Molly McConnell a science teacher and Coordinator for the Environmental Club believes fully that these programs and associated learning and work has certainly paid off for this group of students and for the entire school community who are now empowered to take action and as well become a leader among schools working to become more sustainable.
Academy of Global Citizenship
As the day progressed and I headed south towards Chicago, the temperature kept rising and instead of a cold, snowy and windy day which one would expect in late January in Chicago, it was mild and sunny. I was heading south to visit and award another amazing school with the Green Flag Award, The Academy of Global Citizenship (AGC) a charter school in south Chicago.
Over the past four years, AGC has worked with NWF’s Eco-Schools USA, and Schoolyard Habitat programs, the HSBC Eco-Schools Climate Initiative, and the Wrigley’s Litter Less Campaign to reduce their carbon footprint. Students at AGC spend over two hours a week outside in their gardens and outdoor learning classrooms, collecting eggs and vegetables and composting their breakfast and lunch waste. To date the Academy had diverted over 14,000 pounds of waste from the landfill and have a zero-waste breakfast and lunch program. They also have been able to reduce their carbon emissions by 17.8 tons!
As Dan Schnitzer, Director of Sustainability and Operations points out, “Our work on sustainability and our time outdoors is central to our curriculum. We use the natural world as a lens to learn and inspire and enable our students to take positive actions toward a more sustainable future.”AGC is looking to build a new facility in the near future that will be a net positive energy campusand a model and learning laboratory for all other Chicago Public Schools.
Congratulations to both of these NWF Eco-Schools USA Green Flag Schools!
To resgister to become an NWF Eco-School or to learn more about the program check out our website at: www.eco-schoolsusa.org