Inspiring Highlights From Wellesley Green Schools’ Summit

Phyllis Theermann

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More than 25 Town employees, committee directors, parents, teachers, and students gathered together last week to join their voices and have a roundtable discussion about all things sustainable at Wellesley Public Schools (Dana Hall too).

The annual Green Schools Summit guest speaker was Eric Magers who has created an intriguing model at Manchester Essex High School where 120+ students are part of a green team course. He inspired many with his curriculum which:

  • promotes environmental literacy

  • encourages student service-learning projects

  • enriches students’ learning experience by developing 21st-century and e-STEAM skills

  • empowers students to take on personal environmental responsibility and civic accountability

Mary Gard, of Wellesley Green Schools and Sustainable Wellesley, reminded folks that a few years ago school administrators, town officials, parents and teachers were discussing the creation of the new Wellesley High School. The first goal was to create a school with sustainable design features and technology that would support the Town’s energy goals while also creating a healthy learning environment for students and teachers. The second goal was to create a green community that would live and breathe in it. We now have a Massachusetts Certified High Performance School (status as defined by the Massachusetts School Building Authority), and its time to reach the second part of that goal and utilize the building we have paid for.

What amazes folks the most at the Green School Summit is the vast amount of programing going on across the district and the cross pollination that occurs. Some highlights include:

  • Town boards working together to create building guidelines that help the town meet it’s carbon reduction goals

  • More waste reduction and food waste recovery are happening many thanks to the SEC, NRC and the Manager of Wellesley Food Service’s Provider, Whitsons.

  • Bates School is piloting an outdoor learning project, created scarecrows for Festival with reusable materials and are participating in the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge

  • Wellesley High School Evolution students are working on a variety of town community projects including aquaponics, solar and renewable energy, reusable bag and tree adoption initiatives

  • To promote using less single use plastics, Wellesley Green Schools offered loaner H20 pitchers for meetings and shared the Smart event guide

  • Sustainable Wellesley is encouraging HHU and the Town to choose a scenario that creates the least, long term negative environmental implications, and the greatest sustainable opportunities for our community

  • WMS has new science curriculum with interesting programing including:

    – 6th grade – 1/2 a year on energy including renewables

    – 7th grade – part of the ecology section they are doing a program with the Charles river watershed and Community Rowing Inc (CRI) doing water quality testing and looking at drain channels (leaks and all)

    – 8th grade – hydroponics in the newly renovated greenhouse

  • WHS has local plantings/landscaping

  • Sustainable Energy Committee will be re-launching Power to Choose

  • Schofield will have the Garbage is My Bag assembly coming up courtesy of the Wellesley RDF

  • Wellesley’s Department of Public Works is adding items the town can recycle and working on Waste Wise Wellesley Program

  • Hunnewell is enthusiasically re launching green team

  • Upham is working on recycling lunch trays

  • The Natural Resources Commission gave a bag ban update

  • Sprague School is  working on some no idling programs now and will do a survey of students and faculty to see what direction green team should head

  • Dana Hall is looking to coordinate with WPS on ideas and methodologies -working with Natural Resources Commission on some projects with green team and recently showed “Before the Flood” to very intrigued students.

  • Custodial Services now has a new piece of equipment that they are piloting at WHS which will pull even more chemicals out of the line, eliminate packaging and transportation (cost and waste!)

  • Present WHS students couldn’t make meeting but wrote in to say they are excited and eager to help raise awareness more

For those unable to make the meeting, or interested in learning more, simply email us at info@SustainableWellesley.com. We are here to help.

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Phyllis Theermann
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