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King County honoring its Earth Heroes

Summary

Students, parents, teahers and staff members who practice a commitment to the environment in the classroom and beyond will be honored by King County Executive Dow Constantine at the County's annual Earth Heroes at School ceremony later this month.

Story

Students, parents, teachers and staff members who practice a commitment to the environment in the classroom and beyond will be honored by King County Executive Dow Constantine at the County’s annual Earth Heroes at School ceremony later this month.

“Whether it’s resource conservation, environmental protection or encouraging positive actions by others through education, King County’s Earth Heroes are true champions who lead the way for others to follow,” said Executive Constantine.
 
The Executive will present awards to Earth Heroes on April 25 at 4:30 p.m. at Maplewood Greens, 4050 Maple Valley Hwy., Renton.

This year the program recognizes two students, two student groups, four schools, three programs, eight teachers and five other school employees or teams of employees. Their accomplishments include:

  • Creating an organic garden to serve as a real-world science and sustainability lab;
  • Leading school environmental clubs in projects such as planting trees, recycling, and public awareness of issues associated with polystyrene packaging;
  • Reducing waste by collecting food scraps in the lunchroom for composting; and
  • Collecting shoes in good condition for reuse through Redeeming Soles, which provides footwear to organizations serving the homeless and underprivileged in Puget Sound.

Many winners also participate in the King County Green Schools Program which assists schools and school districts in reaching resource conservation and recycling goals.

For more information about the Earth Heroes at School Program, contact Donna Miscolta at donna.miscolta@kingcounty.gov or 206-296-4477.

2013 Earth Heroes at School

Schools

Apollo Elementary School – Issaquah School District
Since joining the King County Green Schools Program in 2010, Apollo Elementary has increased its recycling rate from 31 percent to 59 percent through its recycling program, which encompasses classrooms, offices, the staffroom, and the lunchroom. Students are thoroughly involved as organizers, promoters and participants in the program.

Creekside Elementary School – Issaquah School District
It took less than three years for Creekside Elementary to achieve all three levels of the King County Green Schools Program. Creekside has a recycling rate of 67 percent, automatic light sensors to conserve energy, and rain gardens, low-flow faucets and timed irrigation systems to save water, and an effective no idling policy that applies to both school buses and cars.

Issaquah Middle School – Issaquah School District
Having completed all three levels of the King County Green Schools Program, Issaquah Middle School continues its commitment to conservation. It has decreased its garbage volume from sixteen yards per week to eight, decreased its natural gas consumption by 27 percent and its electricity use by 22 percent. The student Green Team initiated many water-saving techniques.

Sunset Elementary School – Issaquah School District
Having recently achieved Level Two of the King County Green Schools Program, Sunset Elementary continues to improve its conservation practices. These include a school-wide recycling program, an education and recognition program and an emphasis on reuse and waste prevention. Conservation has become embedded in the culture of the school.

Helen Keller Elementary School – Lake Washington School District
The recycling program at Helen Keller Elementary saves the district $2,500 per year.  With the addition of a lunchroom food-scrap collection program, the school reduced its garbage significantly and was recognized as a Level One King County Green School. Teacher Karen Schwartz, head custodian Heather McMurchie, parent volunteers, and students make this program a success.

Silver Lake Elementary School – Federal Way Public Schools
Staff and students at Silver Lake Elementary started a recycling program in the cafeteria to sort milk cartons, food scraps, and other recyclables from the garbage. As a result they have reduced the weekly garbage volume from eight to four cubic yards, lowered the monthly garbage bill by $81, and increased recycling. The school is on its way to achieving Level One of the King County Green Schools Program.

St. Luke School–Shoreline
The Girl Scouts at St. Luke School worked with the school’s garbage and recycling hauler to conduct a waste audit and educate the staff and students on proper recycling. As a result, St. Luke increased its recycling rate from 26 to 61 percent and decreased its garbage dumpster size from eight to six cubic yards. The school expects to achieve Level One of the King County Green Schools status this spring.

Staff

Judy Bowlby – Creekside Elementary School, Issaquah School District
Program assistant Judy Bowlby, through her effective leadership of conservation practices, helped Creekside Elementary achieve all three levels of the King County Green School Program in three years. With the help of lead custodian Dave Holbrook, Judy started the successful Waste Watchers program, which enlists students to monitor the lunchroom recycling program.

Romanito Celestial, Kahanu Kahoonei and Scott Haines – Sacajawea Middle School, Federal Way Public Schools
To revive a lapsed lunchroom recycling program, administrative staff Kahanu Kahoonei and Scott Haines, and custodian Romanito Celestial worked together to set up the program, recruit student volunteers to monitor the system, and coordinate efforts to promote participation. The efforts resulted in an 80 percent reduction in lunch waste.

Patti Huston and Emeterio Marzan – Olympic View Elementary School, Federal Way Public Schools
Custodians Patti Huston and Emeterio Marzan have been vital to the success of Olympic View Elementary’s recycling program. They have shown students how to properly sort recyclable materials and have willingly and diligently emptied lunchroom recycling containers. They are a friendly, visible and helpful presence. 

Jan Dubois – Ardmore Elementary School, Bellevue School District
Librarian Jan Dubois has led conservation efforts at Ardmore Elementary for more than four years. Her ability to partner well with other school staff and motivate student participation has resulted in an all-school commitment to reduce and recycle waste. Ardmore has completed all three levels of the King County Green Schools Program and has achieved a recycling rate of 64 percent.

Eric Ferguson – Highland Middle School, Bellevue School District
Assistant principal Eric Ferguson’s desire to make a difference for the environment and in the lives of students at Highland Middle School inspires his leadership of the school’s conservation efforts. To motivate students to participate in the recycling program, he dressed as a superhero – a sure indicator of commitment to a cause. Highland Middle School has a 53 percent recycling rate.

Teachers

Nancy Bacon – Northshore School District
As a substitute teacher, Nancy Bacon has engaged students in environmental projects and emphasized the importance of community involvement. She set an example by volunteering to save a neighborhood park, restore streams and protect salmon.

Andy Colleran – Chinook Middle School, Bellevue School District
Skillful at motivating students, Andy Colleran has involved students in monitoring the lunchroom recycling stations. He has led the conservation efforts at Chinook Middle School for more than four years. In that time the school has achieved all three levels of the King County Green Schools Program and a 52 percent recycling rate.

Monica Chun – Enatai Elementary School, Bellevue School District
Under Monica Chun’s leadership for the last four years, Enatai Elementary has won the City of Bellevue’s cafeteria waste reduction contest, raised funds to purchase compostable trays, achieved all three levels of the King County Green Schools Program, and reached a 50 percent recycling rate.

Kristi Stroyan – Medina Elementary School, Bellevue School District
Doing just one thing can make a difference.  This is what Kristi Stroyan has instilled in students.  Her Just One Thing campaign is among the actions that have reinforced recycling and other environmental behaviors at Medina Elementary enabling them to achieve all three levels of the King County Green Schools Program and reach a recycling rate of 40 percent.

Heather McLyman – Lakeridge Elementary School, Mercer Island School District
As the faculty lead for the school Green Team, Heather McLyman has organized the classroom and lunchroom recycling programs, supervised the production of green announcements and other means of promoting environmental behaviors, and coordinated school-wide events such as Earth Week activities. She empowers those around her with her can-do attitude.

Greg Phillips – Todd Beamer High School, Federal Way Public Schools
Working closely with administrative, cafeteria and custodial staff, Greg Phillips started a recycling program in the lunchroom. He recruited student volunteers to monitor the recycling stations for proper sorting. By promoting student involvement in the program, he has conveyed to students that they can make a difference in their community.

Maggie Pierce – Illahee Junior High School, Federal Way Public Schools
Realizing that recycling in the cafeteria had lapsed over the years, Maggie Pierce enlisted the help of students and staff to revive the program.  Attention to proper sorting, incentives for participation, and promotion of the benefits of recycling all contributed to the success of the program which has resulted in a 70 percent reduction in lunch waste.

Liz Savage – Health Sciences and Human Services High School, Highline School District
To help students understand where their food comes from and what the term organic means, Liz Savage created a school garden. The school now has nine garden beds which serve as a real-world lab in agriculture, ecosystems, plant biology, and sustainability. The garden provides food to students and their families.

Students

Northwest Yeshiva High School Green Team – Mercer Island
Under the leadership of students Mathias Cohanim and David Kintzer, the NYHS Green Team monitors recycling containers for proper sorting, collects bottle caps for recycling, partners with Redeeming Soles to collect shoes for reuse, and works with the administration to ensure green products are purchased when available, among other projects at this Level One King County Green School.

Westwood Elementary Fifth-Grade Green Team – Enumclaw School District
Through the efforts of every fifth-grader at Westwood Elementary, the school increased its recycling rate from 43 to 54 percent and was recognized as a Level One King County Green School. They expanded their lunchroom recycling program to include collection of food scraps for composting, use durable lunch trays and utensils, and practice energy-saving behaviors.

Programs

Carl Sandburg Elementary School Earth’s Helpers – Lake Washington School District
The Earth’s Helpers are third through fifth-graders at Carl Sandburg Elementary dedicated to the environment. These students educate others on campus about proper recycling of paper, plastic and food scraps. On weekends, they help weed the school garden at this pesticide-free school. They are working on water conservation to achieve Level Three of the King County Green Schools Program.

Mattson Middle School Support Center – Kent School District
Joanna Schile and her sixth-period Support Center students collect the recycled materials from all the classrooms at Mattson Middle School. These students, active and visible as contributing citizens of the school and community, model the importance of recycling for other students. As a result, students and staff at Mattson are recycling more.

Somerset Elementary School Staff Green Team – Bellevue School District
The staff Green Team at Somerset Elementary has been essential to the school’s success as a Level Three King County Green School. In its four years of steering conservation efforts, it has added food scrap collection to the lunchroom recycling program, trained students to monitor recycling stations, and promoted waste-free lunches to achieve a 63 percent recycling rate.

Volunteers

Carolyn Counihan and Liz Evans – Lakeridge Elementary School, Mercer Island School District
Through the leadership and commitment of PTA members Carolyn Counihan and Liz Evans, Lakeridge Elementary has a solidly established resource conservation program. A successful lunchroom recycling program, a policy to use compostable plates and utensils at school events, and a bulk ordering system for classroom supplies are just some of the practices Carolyn and Liz initiated and led to completion.

Special recognition - Committee's choice

The Earth Heroes Committee gives special recognition to the following 2013 Earth Heroes for their exceptional work as described by their nominators.

Students

Cassandra Houghton – Tahoma High School, Tahoma School District
As a member of her school’s Sustainability Ambassadors since her sophomore year and currently as club president, Cassandra Houghton has helped Tahoma High reach Level Two of the King County Green Schools Program. She has also worked on storm water issues for the City of Maple Valley and the district-wide Waste-Free Wednesday project.

Hattie Yang – Redmond High School, Lake Washington School District
As president of the Environmental Club at Redmond High School, Hattie Yang undertook several projects, including tree plantings, a letter-writing campaign to local businesses about the detrimental effects of polystyrene packaging, and a school-wide recycling program. Hattie is personally committed to spreading awareness of the health and environmental impacts of consumer products.

Teacher

Jennifer Gjurasic – Snoqualmie Elementary School, Snoqualmie Valley School District
A longtime leader in environmental stewardship, Jennifer Gjurasic oversees the student Green Team whose projects include the school-wide recycling effort, a weekly campus litter pick-up, an electronics recycling campaign, elimination of plastic utensils and polystyrene bowls from the lunchroom, and a reusable bag and bottle campaign.