The Green Team Superheroes of Wilmot Elementary School
They started the school year off as just fourteen students but ended as a group of Superheroes! The student-led Green Team – created last year – focuses on leadership and hands-on learning to foster a love of environmental stewardship in its members. Looking back on all the accomplishments, it’s hard to believe just one year ago our program did not even exist. I approached Principal Matt Cormier in March 2017 after attending a sustainability conference. He embraced the idea of creating a Green Team that would be student lead, focusing on leadership and hands-on learning. We were introduced to the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA Seven Step Framework after teaming up with our community sustainability nonprofit – Evergreen’s Alliance for Sustainability (EAS+Y). The steps were clear, concise, and we didn’t feel we had to reinvent the wheel. Using the Framework as our foundation, and the student-led nature of the NWF Eco-Schools program, students became leaders through our Green Team Superheroes program.
Interested 4th and 5th graders applied to become a Green Team Superhero with an essay explaining why sustainability was important to them. Once accepted, students chose the Eco-Schools Energy pathway and each conducted a classroom lighting audit in their respective classrooms. The Superheroes then advised the principal on opportunities to encourage students to reduce energy in the classroom, and presented their findings in a PowerPoint presentation to the school. As part of the audit, the Superheroes learned their classrooms were overly lit by hundreds of lumens, and suggested students and teachers could reduce energy costs if lights were turned off more often and unnecessary lighting was removed from the classroom. The class making the biggest impact in one month would win a school wide energy savings contest.
For the next month, the Superheroes made posters and hung up hallway reminders while conducting room checks and leaving door hang tags behind. Our school went one step further by having our facility manager take more than half of the light bulbs out of the classroom overhead lamps, dramatically dropping our energy usage. After a month of monitoring, the Superheroes conducted the Eco-Schools follow-up light audit. Once the data was analyzed, the students delivered a second presentation where they announced the contest winner and introduced the next school wide energy savings contest.
In total, the Green Team Superheroes conducted three audits with three contests and delivered five presentations before the final end of year skit. At the end of the year, the group of fourteen students performed a 20-minute comprehensive interactive overview skit to the local high school environmental science class and six more times to the rest of their peers.
The team revealed that they had saved the school more than $1300 in energy expenses while achieving the NWF Eco-Schools USA Bronze award and winning $400 worth of LED lights from our school district.
In just a short amount of time, these students have achieved so much. The Eco-Schools USA Seven Step Framework made it possible for our Green Team Superheroes to gain real world, hands-on learning opportunities. Their excitement and dedication are inspiring and our group of graduating 5th graders is determined to continue their work in the middle school. Watching this group of fourteen grow, learn, and be effective leaders is truly amazing. Together we made a difference!
Guest author Lisa Dewil is the parent coordinator who worked alongside the principal to develop and implement the student led sustainability group. She attended meetings, created presentations, coordinated the volunteers, and set up the community events where the Green Team showcased their achievements.