Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Skyridge Becomes Greener and Greener

For the last two years, Skyridge students have been engaged in a concerted effort to reduce carbon footprint. The Camas middle school was one of 10 Washington State schools chosen to participate in the, web-based Washington Green Schools pilot program. Participating schools progress through four tiers completing requirements and earning points to achieve each level of the Washington Green Schools program. The process is initiated with the formation of a Green Team, which includes students, teachers, administration, parents, and classified staff. The Team works as the liaison between the program requirements and the school.

There are five categories that are the basis for the program: Energy Efficiency; Recycling and Waste Reduction; Toxics Reduction and Indoor Air Quality; Transportation and Outdoor Air Quality; Water Quality and Conservation. Green Team members assess how the school is doing in the above categories, and then form sustainable action items based on the evaluation. These action items impact changes within their school that reduce or address the particular environmental issues outlined in the program. Finally, data is entered electronically through the Green Schools website. When a school has acquired 100 points, it is designated as a Tier 1 Green School. During subsequent years, a school can garner Tiers 2-4 by further addressing environmental issues.

In 2008, staff and students at Skyridge implemented a paper and plastic recycling program that has reduced the total waste by almost 70%. This year they partnered with Clark County Solid Waste liaison Erin Rowland and implemented the Save Organic Scraps (SOS) food waste/composting program. At lunch, students are seen separating paper and plastics from food waste. The waste is then collected and composted by Waste Connections. The process in becoming a Green School was started by environmentally-sensitive teacher Ann Hofmann. Within the first year, there were paper and plastic recycling bins in each classroom, hall, gym, and in the cafeteria. This was a big step considering plastic bottles weren’t recycled the year before. Skyridge earned enough points to be designated as a Tier 1 green school last month, the first school in Clark County to do so! They hope to continue their efforts to reduce their environmental impact, with the added bonus of saving the Camas School District money in operations and maintenance.

Expanded projects include vermicomposting worm bins in classrooms, participating in a Bike to School Day, having a student-lead recycling fair where students exchange items they no longer use, and creating a low-maintenance native garden at Skyridge using composted food as fertilizer. Students are linking up with Science teacher John Condon to start flowers and herbs in the school green house. These items will then be transferred to the ROOTS community Garden then sold by students at the Camas Farmer’s Market, and during the CamTown Festival in June.

Access to information:

Contact information:
Ann Hofmann,
Gayle Cooper,
Erin Rowland,