CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The Macomb County Board of Commissioners recognized 127 schools with environmentally friendly practices and programs at a breakfast banquet April 16.
Taking on a variety of recycling projects that fall under various environmental categories, participating schools achieved official Michigan Green School status in one of three categories — green, emerald or evergreen — depending on the amount of points they earned for their projects.
This year in Macomb, 27 schools achieved green status with 10-14 points, 48 schools achieved emerald status with 15-19 points and 52 schools achieved evergreen status with 20 or more points.
St. Mary School in Mount Clemens and Jefferson Middle School in St. Clair Shores earned the most points and tied for the spot of top-earning school, with projects that included going paperless, having park cleanups, composting at St. Mary and creating a community garden and solar ovens at Jefferson.
In Eastpointe, Kelly Middle and Pleasantview Elementary schools both earned green status during the 2012-13 school year.
“We have a box in each classroom for recycling, and we started a garden in our courtyard,” said Shelley Polinar, a sixth-grade science teacher at Kelly Middle School.
“We are really proud that our younger students are taking an interest in the environment, not only for their future, but for future generations,” said Joann Lelekatch, superintendent of East Detroit Public Schools.
In Roseville, Reach Charter Academy earned green status and Huron Park Elementary School earned emerald status. Eastland Middle School and Steenland, Kaiser, Dort and Fountain elementary schools all earned evergreen status through projects that included Dort’s participation in National Walk to School Day and Kaiser’s Trashion Show, a fashion show with apparel made from recycled materials.
While schools must participate in a minimum of two projects in each of four specific areas — recycling, environmental protection, energy and miscellaneous/awareness/technology — they are also given the option to earn additional points through independent projects, like an upcycled fashion show.
“Green Schools was started by the State of Michigan to make sure kids met a certain amount of criteria for energy efficiency and sustainability, so that they can incorporate it in their everyday lives,” said Macomb County Board of Commissioners Chair David Flynn of Sterling Heights.
“As leaders, our goal, in many respects, is that kids have the opportunity to have a quality education, that we instill a sense of community with them, but also I think it is important to make sure that students have an ownership in their future. Green Schools incorporates all three of these important principles.”
The Macomb County Green Schools Project was adopted by the board in 2008 and has since become one of their primary projects. They work on it in conjunction with Oakland and Wayne counties and the Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD).
“It’s one of our signature initiatives in the community, but the teachers, students and parent volunteers are really at the forefront of making the program a success,” said Toni Moceri, the Warren commissioner who chairs the project.
“One of the biggest challenges facing us is the environment and how we protect it, and this program puts the students and the teachers at the forefront of taking on this challenge. It gives them the skills and knowledge to push forward in that cultural shift.
“With younger generations, this is a given — protecting the environment is something they believe in — and this gives them the opportunity to explore it and be leaders in it and create the future they want to see. It puts them at the forefront of environmental issues and prepares them for the careers that will be here in the future.”
The Macomb County Green Schools Project is funded through state and federal grants and donations.
For more information on the program or to make a donation, call (586) 469-6484 or visit www.greenmacomb.com and click on the “Michigan Green School Program” icon on the right side of the page.
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