Students and staff at Parkside Elementary wanted to go green in a big way. They ended up going past green, all the way to emerald.
Parkside earned emerald status from Michigan Green Schools, a nonprofit supporting environmental stewardship practices statewide. Emerald is the agency’s second-highest ranking, falling between “green” and “evergreen.” The award permits Parkside to use the Michigan Green Schools logo on all its materials.
The recognition culminated an effort begun by parents last fall, building on sustainable practices Parkside already had in place. Third-grade teacher Virginia Weaver has long emphasized ecology education, and retired custodian Bob Bowman last spring was honored by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for leading student recycling efforts.
The school also works closely with Trout Unlimited, which helped fund a grant to remove a crumbling dam and restore fish population to Rum Creek, behind the school.
Weaver assembled a student “green team” of third- through fifth-graders and set about meeting the Green Schools requirements for sustainable activities. They included a compost bin for cafeteria scraps; recycling water bottles; an ArtPrize mural made of plastic lids; repurposed classroom materials; energy-efficient computer use; and a student-made sign encouraging drivers to turn off their engines while waiting outside the school.
Their green-friendly efforts are far from over, said Michele Lussky, chair of the parent committee.
“By the end of the project we still have a ‘wish list’ of 38 more programs and improvements we will try to implement next year,” she said by email. “We aren’t done by any means. We will need to reapply every year and I am hopeful that next year, we will earn ‘Evergreen.’”