Dayna Finley, first-grade teacher, and Katie Adams, fifth-grade teacher, have worked together in helping Plymouth Scholars accomplish the application goals. The two teachers used the month of April with Earth Day to celebrate and continue meeting their environmental and green goals.
Some things are too big for trash bags! The Earth Day clean-up was school0wide, and grade levels were divided up into different parts of the grounds.Michigan Green Schools is dedicated to assisting schools achieve environmental goals that include protecting the air, land, water, and animals of our state along with world outreach through good ecological practices and the teaching of educational stewardship of all school children.
“Being a green school creates a safe environment for kids and impacts them in a positive way,” Adams said. “The kids can also see the different things we are doing school-wide, take those good habits, and implement them at home as well.”
These scholars took part in the Trashion Show organized by Art teacher Jen RichardsonThe Michigan Green Schools Program provides certification to schools that can complete at least 10 energy and environmental activities throughout the school year. The three different levels of certification include Green for completing 10 activities, Emerald for 15 activities, and Evergreen for 20 activities. Plymouth achieved the Emerald designation with 19 points!
“This process is within reach for every school. Many of the activities are things we do already and with small changes schools can reach even higher green school levels and be more eco-friendly,” Finley said. “The most time-consuming part of the application is writing the summary information, but with a shared Google Doc every staff member has access to the activities that can get our school points and they can add in information on their units or activities that help us. It can be a team effort!”
The Trashion Show was an activity that earned a point in the Michigan Green Schools application.
The Google Doc Finley created lists all the categories in which points can be obtained. When teachers went to review it, they could see how their activities could count. Some of those items included: two teachers teaching a unit about alternative energy, teaching a unit about environmental issues facing Michigan, having a student crew who takes the recycling out to the dumpster for pick-up, and a class that reviewed a website to learn about Michigan’s invasive species.
Some activities took place during earth week, including planting wildflowers, and picking up trash around the school grounds. They organized a fundraiser, for $1 you could wear green for the day. If the school raised at least $1,000, they could sponsor an animal at the Detroit Zoo and get a plaque in their name. They raised $1,014.07 in donations and are sponsoring an animal with the zoo’s Animals Depend On People To Survive (ADOPTS) program. Plymouth Scholars has a plaque at the Amur Tiger exhibit!
Cleaning the grounds is a great springtime activity.Perhaps one of the most unique projects was to participate in an upcycle activity that reuses discarded objects or materials that creates a new product. Art Teacher Jen Richardson assigned students to work in groups to create clothing items. Then students did a Trashion Show to display their creations.
“I think teaching the students about being green is so important because they are the future,” Adams said. “The more we instill these good habits in our kids, the more likely they are to practice them. I especially like hearing when students tell me that they are doing ‘said green thing’ at home as well, whether it was being done prior to being at PSCA, it is still amazing!”
The Green Team sends out reminders to turn off technology over the weekend, provides a method to do a uniform exchange, and donates lost items to a secondhand store. All count in the application process as does all sorts of recycling whether its paper, batteries, markers, or plastic.
“We are a Moral Focus school,” Finley said. “We need to be a positive example for our scholars. Making these ‘green’ choices has been so easy for our school. We’ve only had to make small changes because most activities are things covered through the standards we teach. I think it’s important to do all we can to help our communities. Showing our students how easy it is to care for our environment is a bonus. Small life choices can make a difference and so can individuals.”
These scholars are working on an Earth Day project.
Plymouth Scholars received a certificate signed by Director Liesl Clark of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and a banner to display at the school.
“To people who think being green is too much effort, I disagree about the work and it is so worth it! Students get excited to do things around the school to make it a green school,” Adams said. “The recycling club looks forward to visiting all the classrooms and doing their weekly duty. It’s getting them ready for a job-like responsibility early. Taking the time to do little tasks, like turning off that extra light or unplugging that unused pencil sharpener before you leave for the day, makes such a difference and it is easy!
Congratulations Plymouth Scholars Charter Academy staff and scholars for the Emerald designation. Keep up the good work.
Plymouth Scholars Charter Academy is a free public charter schools in Plymouth, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. National Heritage Academies (NHA), a charter school management company in Grand Rapids, Mich. has over 95 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.