by Isabelle Franke
At Main Street Middle School in Montpelier, students on the Team Summit “Green Team” are working to improve sustainability initiatives and reduce waste. In partnership with Gwen Lyons of the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District, student committees focus on specific environmental, energy and sustainability issues.
In the spring of 2011, teachers Amy Kimball and Don Taylor decided to integrate environmental studies into the core curriculum. Students studied energy and waste problems, along with the impact of climate change on Vermont’s winters. Shortly thereafter, the Team Summit “Green Team” was born.
The Green Team’s first accomplishments were creative, including the Great Locker Clean Out. This now-annual event encourages students to reuse, recycle and repurpose school supplies. Materials in good condition are then distributed, free of charge, the following year.
In the 2012-2013 school year, students furthered the objectives of the previous year’s
Green Team. Their accomplishments included banning the sale of single-use plastic water bottles and providing customized, reusable water bottles to the entire student body. So far this has saved over 14,500 new water bottles from entering the waste stream. In addition, the Green Team instituted small-scale composting in at least five classrooms around the school.
This year, Team Summit started focusing on outreach. In collaboration with ORCA Media, they created a news show covering the goals and accomplishments of the committees. The news show was aired on local television. Recently, students wrote, produced and filmed a movie that was broadcast to the school at the first annual Green Team Expo, where the school community attended workshops with student and guest speakers. Additionally, one committee attended the Youth Environmental Summit, an event where students from around Vermont assemble to learn about the environment. They were the only student presenters.
In a recent survey, 94 percent of students on Team Summit said that their participation in Green Team influenced their environmentally-conscious behavior. In the future, the Green Team hopes to uphold this response and spread their ideas to schools around Vermont.
Isabelle Franke is an eighth-grader at Main Street Middle School.
by Isabelle Franke