Alcoa W5 program Helps Massena Elementary Schools Earn Eco-Schools Recognition!

On June 4, 2018, Jefferson, Nightengale and Madison Elementary schools in Massena, N.Y., brought together friends, families and community members to showcase their second year of work under the Alcoa W5 program – a National Wildlife Federation program where schools use the Eco-Schools USA program to address energy, climate change, waste, water and wildlife at their schools and in their community.

Jefferson, Nightengale and Madison Elementary Schools in Massena, NY earn Eco-School recognition. Photo: Elizabeth Soper

This is the second year that the Alcoa Foundation has support programming at all the elementary schools in Massena, N.Y.

Although schools were only required to address one of the five environmental themes offered, each school addressed at least two and Madison Elementary addressed three, helping them to earn the highest level of achievement under program. Both Jefferson and Nightengale earned silver level recognition and plan to apply next fall for their own Green Flags!

“Each of these schools has exceeded our expectations over the past two years. The Green Team students have become experts and leaders at their schools and are helping other students, staff and family to better understand environmental issues and what actions to take to reduce their impact.”
Liz Soper, National Wildlife Federation, Director of K-16 Education

Darcie Fregoe, 6th grade science teacher at Madison Elementary and the Madison Green Team receive the Eco-Schools USA Green Flag Award. Photo: Elizabeth Soper

On June 4th, students had the opportunity to share what they had learned at the Alcoa W5 showcase and celebration night. Each school set up displays, games, and activities that participants could engage in. One such table provided a chart of the three different trash audits that Nightengale Elementary had conducted. Each one of these audits required students to gather classroom trash at the end of the day weigh the trash, then determine what could of actually been recycled and not thrown away. In between each audit, students helped to educate the school about what could recycled. It was great to see that the amount of trash had decreased as the recycled material increased. Nightengale still has one final audit to do to determine their overall waste reduction for the year.

Jefferson addressed school grounds and energy this year. Students did an assessment of their current school site and created maps and designs for their new Schoolyard Habitat to be built later this June. The focus was on increasing habitat for birds and pollinators and increasing biodiversity on their school grounds.

NIghtengale Elementary Green Team explain how they reduced their trash and increased recycling. Photo: Elizabeth Soper

Madison Elementary addressed energy, waste and healthy living to earn their Eco-Schools Green Flag. As part of their energy actions, students developed poems and raps that were read every morning over the intercom to help educate others about turning off lights, computers and other energy vampires in the school. To increase student activity, Darcie Fregoe, the 6th grade science teacher at Madison would provide students with time during science class to run around the track for seven to ten minutes. “The students were much more focused and got right to work after having that time to burn off energy, calories and get some fresh air,” stated Fregoe.

Jefferson students share plans for their new Schoolyard Habitat.
Photo: Elizabeth Soper

“The National Wildlife Federation Eco-Schools program is a great way to engage students in sustainability initiatives. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the students and seeing their work displayed at the June 4th celebration and showcase event. On behalf of Alcoa Foundation and Alcoa’s Massena Operations, we appreciate the work the National Wildlife Federation and the teachers and students from Madison, Jefferson and Nightengale schools are doing to positively impact the environment.”
Mitch Nemier, Alcoa Plant Manager, Massena, N.Y.