Celebrating Greenpoint—Brooklyn’s First Green Flag Community

Congratulations to the Greenpoint Eco-Schools!

On May 15 in Brooklyn, NY, the four Greenpoint Eco-Schools–PS 31, PS 34, PS 110, and MS 126–were honored with the Eco-Schools USA highest award—the Green Flag. The four schools have become outstanding models of school greening and sustainability, and now because of this new distinction, are proud to call themselves a Green Flag Community!

Photo by Teri Brennan

Funded by a grant from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund, using monies obtained through a settlement with ExxonMobil over its Greenpoint oil spill, the Greenpoint Eco-Schools program is a comprehensive environmental-based education program. With the goals of countering the legacy of industrial pollution in Greenpoint and building a sustainable future, the program has transformed the way Greenpoint students learn about and care for nature and their community.

A key feature of the National Wildlife Federation’s Greenpoint Eco-Schools program is the placement of full-time, paid “Sustainability Coaches” in each of the four schools. These Coaches have collaborated with teachers, students, and families on a host of projects. Last year, NWF Sustainability facilitated more than 125 workshops, stewardship activities or meetings for school families and the community, organized over 100 outdoor community activities and field trips, and helped students at each school survey wildlife, inventory plant species, and investigate the types and quality of habitat in their neighborhood.

New York City Department of Education District 14 Superintendent Alicja Winnicki spoke to the attendees about the meaningful transformation of this learning community, emphasizing the skill-building, academic achievements, and whole child development that the Eco-Schools program cultivates.

Superintendent Alicja Winnicki. Photo by Teri Brennan

Students from these four schools are now ambassadors for conservation, and making life connections to nature. The Eco-Schools program is giving them an incredible opportunity to cultivate leadership skills in a community that has been plagued by environmental pollution for decades.

Demonstrated by school-based action campaigns, community investigations, and local stewardship projects, the Greenpoint program is empowering students to make a difference. During the Green Flag Celebration, guests had the opportunity to observe a sampling of the schools’ Green STEM projects, talk to students about their experiences, and listen to their discoveries as part of the formal presentation.

Leila Veras, a student at MS 126, spoke about her leadership experiences as part of the program, “I am also the President of the Waste Warriors recycling team. As the President of the Waste Warriors team it has been a privilege to lead and help my team mates. This also helps to teach everybody the significance of recycling in the world. I also learned that to be a leader of a group, it means that you have to include other people when you make decisions.”

Allura, a 5th grader at PS 34, shared lessons for all of us during the event, “I think it’s so important to be more aware about the waste we produce. We should teach each other about how to recycle.  We should learn to reuse the things that we might normally throw out. We should reduce the amount of products we buy. Get it? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle..…boom!”.

Photo by Teri Brennan

Students from PS 31, wrote an Eco-Chant that exemplifies their commitment to sustainable principles:

At PS 31, we reduce, reuse, and recycle every day. Every day is Earth Day. We care for living things. Caring for living things can make a better future. We are leaders and team players. We are all in this together. We stand globally and learn locally. May everybody pass the word, now let there be peace on Earth. Joy to the trees. We shall plant!

And finally, the PS 110 chorus opened and closed the ceremony with two ecologically-minded songs—“The Earth is Our Mother, a Native American chant, and “Stronger Together”. PS 110 3rd Grader, Veronica Levens told the crowd about why they chose the song and perfectly sums up the program’s collaborative success,  “The reason why we are singing this song on this day is because our schools worked together to achieve the Green Flag. Scary things may happen like oil spills but we will always be together to fight them.”

Photo by Teri Brennan

The Eco-Schools program is proud to have contributed to making Greenpoint greener. The success of the program and the extraordinary student growth is good news for the future!

Check out impressive highlights from the Greenpoint Eco-Schools program in this photo slide show.

More photos from the event can be found on our facebook page

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