Students at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Chicago are taking part in the HSBC Eco-Schools USA Climate Initiative, and making huge strides towards greening their school!
Amy Andrews, a third grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary, first learned about the climate initiative while browsing teacher resources online. The program, aimed at developing a global network of schools actively working to reduce carbon emissions, provides participating schools with on-the-ground training on how to implement carbon reduction action projects using volunteers from local area HSBC North America offices. After attending a training workshop hosted by NWF and HSBC North America, Amy recruited another teacher at the school, Valerie Rutkowski, to help her kick off the program. In March of this year they, along with their HSBC volunteers Kristine Schleede and Rammesh Navaneethakrishnan, formally established an Eco-Schools USA program at the school.The school’s Eco-Action Team is made up of roughly 20 to 25 students in grades four through eight. Currently the team is working on their environmental audit. They are focusing first on the energy pathway and on uncovering ways to make the school building (built in 1871) more energy efficient. The school engineer, Patrick Carney, has been on board with the program from the start, providing students with a tour of the boiler room and educating them about improvements that have already been made to improve the school’s energy efficiency.
As part of the HSBC Eco-Schools Climate Initiative, Lincoln Elementary will receive a $500 mini grant. They plan to use it to get the Eco-Action Team working with other students in the school’s newly constructed greenhouse which is part of an overall green roof. The team will work on planting projects and help spread environmental awareness among their classmates.Amy Andrews has enjoyed taking part in the HSBC Eco-Schools Climate Initiative, and is glad that the program has helped her students and the school community to become more environmentally conscious. “When the HSBC volunteers came into the school the students were really into it. It was a special thing for them having the volunteers here.” And, just recently, Lincoln Elementary learned that they won first place in the HSBC Eco-Code national poster contest! Students Laura Goralka and Mackenzie Bradley created the award-winning poster, titled “Going Green Before Your Eyes.”
The positive experience with HSBC has inspired Amy to identify other groups in the region to partner with. In May, members of the Eco-Action team took part in Climate Cycle’s Solar School Ride, a 10 mile bike ride to raise funds to have solar panels placed on Chicago area schools. They also participated in the Live Earth Run For Water, a 6 kilometer run/walk to raise awareness about our need to conserve and protect our water resources. They helped host a booth at the event, which was sponsored by the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program, to inform the public about the importance of water.
Ultimately, Lincoln Elementary School hopes to act as a model for Chicago Public Schools and their efforts to go green. Good luck, Lincoln Elementary, we support you all the way!
Click here to find out more about the HSBC Eco-Schools USA Climate Initiative.
It’s the oldest school in the United States, but Boston Latin School prides itself on its new thinking. Students have taken the initiative on several ambitious projects, rapidly transforming the Boston, Massachusetts school into a leader in education for sustainability.
Inspired by the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, students at Boston Latin School founded the Youth Climate Action Network (BLS Youth CAN) in 2007. The network now includes climate action clubs in 18 schools throughout the eastern Massachusetts area. To further engage schools in the region, BLS held its 4th Annual Climate Change Summit in May 2010. Students from over 50 schools gathered at MIT for the event. Presentations and workshops gave students and teachers an opportunity to learn more about climate change and its effects and to envision solutions.
Students at BLS have already shown their dedication to the cause. Earlier in the school year, they submitted over 580 “green wishes” for their school and won a contest sponsored by Eco-Schools USA in conjunction with Warner Brothers. During the Summit, they were presented with the grand prize—a solar tent from FTL Solar. The tent has a solar array capable of turning sunlight into electricity, and will be used as an outdoor classroom. Summit participants got to see the tent in action—it powered the equipment for the BLS student band as it played and a group of dancing “green people” entertained the crowd.
“BLS Youth CAN is delighted and excited to have won this solar tent from FTL Solar and NWF,” said BLS Youth CAN member Rebecca Park. “Our school and the Youth Climate Action Network are working on all levels to become sustainable. The opportunities it brings for both renewable energy generation and hands-on education are fantastic. We see this solar tent as one more step in engaging in NWF’s Eco-Schools USA program and as part of our new green roof initiative.”
The school is in the process of implementing a green roof project that will provide an oasis of vegetation in the middle of the city—and a tremendous learning opportunity for students. Students contributed to the design process and are actively engaged in fundraising and communicating about the project. When the roof is complete, students will use it to grow food for the school cafeteria, monitor and analyze streaming data, and offer other area schools an opportunity to share in the learning. In fact, they envision a much larger green-roof coalition in their part of the city. And they are also advocating for—and working to create—a mandatory education-for-sustainability curriculum for all schools in the state of Massachusetts.
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