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Spring plants the ‘green scheme’ seed into student mind-set

By Alexa Trembly
posted April 20, 2011

The environmental movement that has swept away the nation’s trash jumped into the halls of West this week as “Green Week” allowed faculty and students to conserve and clean in proper preparation for National Earth Day on April 22. Designed by Science Club to increase awareness of conservation and earth friendly behaviors, Green Week has left the school with new knowledge of how to make being “green” an easy task.

“The green movement is about conserving and using our resources wisely,” environmental issues teacher John Reiland said. “It’s about doing the right thing but also understanding that the right thing doesn’t have to be painful either.”

In preparation for the week, Science Club took to planning the themed days, each focusing on a specific part of the green movement. The first themed day was one for conserving gas and miles, sparking student interest with extrinsic motivation – an award of a teacher parking pass.

“Tuesday we [had a] car pool day. [Earlier] my first hour class and I counted the cars and there were 444 cars in the lot and on the street. Then, we polled [the mileage] and the average person drives 4.7 miles to school everyday,” Reiland said, “if we can cut down by 20 cars that would be 80 some miles driven one way and 160 miles round trip.”

Wednesday followed with a day of recycling and trash awareness, encouraging students to roam the parking lot and green space to assist with cleaning up the debris of forgotten lunches, lost assignments, and other miscellaneous articles.

“Wednesday [was] trash day and we [went] around and [picked] up the recycling. They say the average person throws out 4.5 pounds of garbage each day, that’s a lot,” Reiland said, “so we if can inform people and try to help clean up and beautify, it would be much better.”

Lastly, today has been deemed energy day; a day when teachers and students will be asked to conserve energy by unplugging appliances and limiting use of electric powered lights.

“[On] energy day we’re going to talk about vampire energy, how when things are plugged in they are still taking energy,” Reiland said. “Seventh hour there is going to be announcements to have the teachers unplug the appliances that are taking up vampire energy.”

The daily announcements during the week were taken over by the green campaign to improve the knowledge of students on the extensive history and startling statistics of each themed day.

“Each day we [had] facts about the movement, like for a quick example a fact about Earth Day is that it was started in Wisconsin by Senator Gaylord Nelson, so this [was] done to inform people,” Reiland said.

In addition to informing West, another ambition driving the green movement was the goal to become a more environmentally friendly school. Last year, small steps were taken towards this goal, but now, leaps and bounds are being made, participating Science Club secretary Jess Courchene has helped organize the week since the beginning.

“I [made] signs for the hall ways, also I helped brainstorm ideas for the themes of the day, and read facts on the announcements,” she said, “and I helped with organizing the carpool day, and picking up garbage at lunch.”

Even with the multiple avenues of involvement, Science Club has unfolded for student participation, Courchene thinks more emphasis should be placed on the importance of becoming “green”, hoping that people recognize the consequences they’ve created.

“The green movement, at our school at least, is to get students and staff to understand the importance of conserving energy and recycling,” she said. “I think everyone, West included, needs to focus more on conservation. People don’t realize how much they waste.”

Reiland also has taken note of the progress in West’s attitude towards keeping the school and earth in cleaner conditions.

“I think we’re doing a better job around West, we’ve been conserving energy and we’ve been doing things,” Reiland said. “We have to start conserving. Think of gasoline, how if we start conserving it, how much that would affect things.”

Following the facts, the recycling, and the energy conservation, Science Club hopes to push for their final goal of increasing the “green” thoughts of West and for higher participation in this coming tomorrow’s National Earth Day.

“Hopefully people will carry [West’s Green Week] on and on Saturday with Earth Day, hopefully they will do something earth friendly [because] it’s the right thing to do,” Reiland said.


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