Eco-Friendly Measures Have Darien Students Seeing Green
Darien schools set sights on helping save the earth.
The schools in Darien have been looking a little more green lately, but it’s not due to an illness epidemic sweeping through the classrooms.
Instead, it’s because of both Darien School District 61’s and Cass School District 63’s implementation of several earth-friendly measures.
At Cass Junior High School, styrofoam trays used in the lunch room are being re-used for various purposes throughout the school thanks to fifth-grade science teacher Theresa West and a group of students.
When West saw the increase in waste the school was producing, she and the students decided to collect the trays, wash them, and find another use them.
“The kids have really taken ownership of that program,” Principal Paul Bleuher said.
West now has hundreds of trays being used for palettes when mixing paint in art classes, and she also uses them in her own classes to hold and transport materials during Earth Science labs.
The School Boards in both District 61 and District 63 are also getting in on the green action. Both have gone to “paperless” board meetings, where members now access meeting information electronically.
“Our last meeting was 148 pages, so (multiply) that times nine and that’s a lot of paper,” District 61 Board Member Matt Mostowik said. “It not only saves on paper, but it saves on the copy and delivery. No one has to deliver (the board packets) to our houses.”
In District 61, Lace Elementary School started paving the way to be more environmentally friendly a few years ago by installing a green roof on the library at the suggestion of Mostowik.
“It was just an idea I had,” he said. “I thought, wouldn’t it be great?”
To help fund the project, the school district received a $90,000 grant from the DuPage County Stormwater Management Division.
The roof replaces shingles with seeds that blossom into an array of plants and flowers. Because a green roof absorbs rain water, less water goes into the sewers, which in turn lowers the chances of flooding. It also improves the quality of the storm water runoff by first filtering it through the green garden roof system.
Lace was the first public school in DuPage County with a green roof.
The school is also host to the “Go Green” Club, which gets students involved with projects and activities that improve the environment.
District 61 school officials are now seeking grant money to put energy-efficient lighting in the Eisenhower Junior High School gym and staging area.
“We’re trying to change a lot of our lighting throughout the district to more energy lighting over time,” Superintendent Bob Carlo said.
While there is not an established environmental club at Cass Junior High School, students and staff take on many of their own initiatives to keep the school green.
A few years ago, seventh-grade science teacher Marianne Tamosaitis created a garden plot in some green space next to the school.
“She’s used that garden as a learning environment for the kids while in class,” Bleuher said.
During the spring and fall, students can often be found staying after school to help Tamosaitis work out in the garden.
“We don’t have a formal environmental club per se,” Bleuher said. “But through efforts like these there definitely is a good sense of awareness on those issues.”