It’s official: Westtown now has a beautiful Green Ribbon School plaque to hang in Central. This week, Head of School John Baird, Director of Gift Planning Meghan Sayer, and I had the pleasure of accepting this award on behalf of the whole school from the U.S. Department of Education in Washington D.C. Westtown was one of 54 public and 10 independent schools to be selected, and the only independent school in the state of Pennsylvania. In a rigorous evaluation process, States’ nominees to the US Department of Education were assessed by several dozen reviewers from four federal agencies: The U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Forest Service, and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). It was inspiring to be among educational innovators from a vibrant mix of rural, urban, elementary, middle, and high schools from throughout the country. Continue reading
Over 300 Middle and Lower School students and faculty members, supported by the grounds crew, accomplished an astonishing amount of campus stewardship on Friday afternoon, April 26th, to celebrate Earth Day. In only an hour and a half we collectively:
- planted 45 native hickory, white, and black oak whips (baby trees) in deer-proof cages in lake road woods
- planted 1 large native Shadbush Serviceberry by the Middle School herb garden
- planted 2 large native Autumn Brilliance Serviceberries and 3 native Winterberries in Lower School habitat garden
- planted 3 large crab apples by Athletic Center parking lot
- planted 2 large native red oaks by tennis courts
- cleaned out the Lower School habitat garden, medicine wheel garden, and vegetable beds
- cleared beds and planted more native flowering perennials by Middle School
- cleared beds and planted new herbs in the herb garden
- planted several flats of flowers and vegetables at the mini-farm
- planted onions at Pete’s Farm
- pulled out invasive cattails and multi-flora rose by the tennis courts and invasive Pachysandra from the lake road woods
- dredged the frog pond
Many Lower School groups also took photos, rubbings, did scavenger hunts and spent time outside enjoying nature.
Ah, spring! Planting at the student farm is in full swing, with a wonderful twist this year. Thanks to generous support from the Cooper Fund and the John Baird Sustainability Fund, Westtown was able to purchase a BCS walk-behind tractor, with plow and tiller attachments. Small market farmers around the world sing the praises of this versatile, elegant machine, which makes plowing under cover crops and shaping raised beds a snap.
Designed and made in Italy, its ease of operation lets even novices take a turn, as these Upper School Service Network students found out. Lower School students in the after-school “Diggin’ in the Dirt” program led by Teacher Kim Glynn quickly filled up one of the fluffy, freshly dug beds with young seedlings. In a few weeks, we will have delicious greens in the dining hall!
Westtown was one of four schools (and the only independent school) nominated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the Green Ribbon School award. The U.S. Department of Education will announce the winners in late April. Last year 75 schools from around the country earned the award.
As a result of the nomination, Westtown has been named a 2013 Pennsylvania Pathways Green School and will receive a financial incentive to further our work to achieve the goals set forth in the Green Ribbon Schools pillars: to reduce environmental impact and costs, improve the health and wellness of students and staff, and provide effective environmental and sustainability education.
Every Westonian has contributed to this nomination through the school-wide gardening program; energy conservation; robust recycling, composting, and waste reduction; local food procurement and sustainable dining; and classroom teaching about systems thinking and interdependency, resource stewardship, sustainable design, critical thinking, problem solving, and responsible engagement as citizens.
Guided by the Quaker testimonies of stewardship, simplicity, peacemaking, and community, along with a commitment to academic excellence, we are making a difference.
Westtown has generated a veritable feast of sustainability practices! Here’s our recipe for adding green to the school colors — while teaching every step of the way.
1. Green the Curriculum: It’s not just a science class affair — 4th graders perform a musical about sustainability, Ethics and Business students in Upper School learn about the triple bottom line (profit, planet, and people), history classes study issues of eco-justice, and field ecology students design research projects using the campus. Sustainability permeates all aspects of the curriculum.