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On Tuesday, June 5, members of Wellesley Town Meeting will vote on whether to approve $1 million to fund a feasibility study for the reconstruction of Hunnewell Elementary School.

There are many excellent reasons why the reconstruction of this school will help to maintain a high standard of educational services for our children. We believe it also makes sense from an environmental perspective.

This project presents an extraordinary opportunity for Wellesley to take another leap forward in becoming a model for sustainability as we build a school for the decades to come. Technological advances have now made it possible to build a high performing, sustainable building within the same budget as a conventional building. A school building also happens to be a particularly appropriate application for net-zero energy design (defined as a building that uses no more energy than it generates).

Net-zero energy schools have proven to

– Save thousands of dollars in energy costs every year

– Create valuable learning opportunities for students as the features of the building can be used for research projects

– Enhance the sense of common purpose as the whole school community works toward reducing energy use

– Provide a healthy and appealing work environment for students and teachers.

For the past year, the Town’s Sustainable Energy Committee (comprised of members appointed by the Selectmen, and representatives of the School Committee and the Municipal Light Plant board) has been working with the School Building Committee on this project. Together, they have incorporated into the scope of the proposed feasibility study an evaluation of the most sustainable options for the Hunnewell site. We are confident that these options will be presented to the School Building Committee and that the priorities for educational services, fiscal responsibility, and sustainability will be in full alignment.

We know that there are still issues to be resolved concerning Upham and Hardy. In the meantime, it is clear that Hunnewell is an antiquated building in poor condition that must be re-envisioned as a school for the future — both from an educational perspective and from an environmental one.

Please contact your Town Meeting Members and urge them to vote for favorable action on Article 3 this week.

Scott Bender, Mary Gard, Lise Olney, Quentin Prideaux, Phyllis Theermann, Sustainable Wellesley Leadership Team

Phyllis Theermann
Hunnewell Green Club

Stephen and Tara working on their endangered species project at Hunnewell

Wellesley High Schools students Sophie Chen, Charlotte Clapham, Lily Fenton, Olivia Gieger, Johanna Keigler, and Shamus Miller wanted to inspire. They are part of the Students for Environmental Awareness (SEA) Club and created a Hunnewell Environmental Club. They have met with up to 30 students after school to discuss and do hands on activities related to the environment.

First, they took a broad look at the earth system, discussing waste (plastic, food, trash) and decorated reusable bags. Then they dug deeper into the greenhouse effect, planted seedlings, considered ocean climates and wrote a school wide PSA.  More recently, they narrowed down the discussion to endangered animals, and had students pick an endangered species to research and paint in its habitat.

Meet some of these incredible students and learn more about this High School Club at the Wellesley Farmers’ Market on Saturday, June 18th between 9 & 1 on the lawn at 309 Washington Street.