Success story: Fall City Elementary School
School District: Snoqualmie Valley
School Location: Fall City
Began participating in the Green Schools Program: September 2007
Level One of the Green Schools Program: Achieved in May 2009
Level Two of the Green Schools Program: Achieved in May 2010
Waste reduction and recycling
- Fall City Elementary increased its recycling rate from 25 percent to 38 percent, and reduced garbage volume by 447 cubic yards in one year.
- The school received recycling containers and stickers from the Green Schools Program.
- In addition to adding milk carton recycling in the lunchroom, the school collects cell phones and printer cartridges to be recycled.
- Fall City Elementary uses worm bins to compost food scraps from classroom snacks.
- The school has several active teacher and student groups that tackle environmental projects including worm bins, litter pick up and recycling education.
- Fall City actively promotes Waste Free Wednesday campaigns that encourage students to bring lunches from home in durable and recyclable containers.
- , Teachers incorporate waste reduction and recycling messages into their curricula, and the school includes environmental education across the curriculum. For example, all students read Wangari Maathai’s Trees of Peace, fourth grade students calculate their carbon footprints with online calculators, and third graders learn about plastics in the ocean and the importance of reducing plastic use.
- Using the school learning garden, teachers connect conservation concepts to real-world experiences.
- During the school’s Earth Week campaign, students created Earth Day raps that included ten actions students can do to protect the planet. The campaign focused on a different activity for each letter in EARTH: E for Energy Conservation; A for alternative transportation; R for the four “R’s” – rethink, reduce, reuse and recycle; T for trade (bringing in a gently used book to trade for another) and H for hero and helping hand (sharing conservation ideas with others).
- With grant money from the Snoqualmie Valley School Foundation and the school’s PTA, as well as free electrician labor donated by A&R Solar, Fall City Elementary installed four solar panels worth $5,300.
- Staff placed “Turn off the lights” stickers on all manual light switches.
- Students shared energy conservation messages via morning announcements and a bulletin board display “The Power is in your Hands.”
- Students created end-of-day classroom energy checklists as conservation reminders.
- Librarian Meg Handy is developing curricula to guide students in monitoring the school’s energy use. Principal Dan Schlotfeldt’s goal is to eventually have the school “off the grid.”
- Meg Handy received the King County Earth Hero at School award in April 2009 for improving the lunchroom recycling program, obtaining grant funds for solar panels, starting worm bins for composting food scraps, restoring the school garden and supporting teachers in their classroom lessons on conservation.
Fall City Elementary’s plans for 2010-2011 include:
- Exploring on-site food composting and potentially selling the compost as a fundraiser.
- Developing energy conservation lessons specifically related to the energy data collected from the school’s solar panels.
- Adopting a local stream for restoration.
In discussing Stewardship this quote was shared from Mother Teresa: "The Ocean Is Made of Drops." The question was posed to the children about what she meant, and how we could apply her idea to our own lives as we seek to help our community, our country and the environment. After all, we are just children, we are just individuals. Some might say we can't contribute much.
A student said, "I think it's like we are all just drops of helpfulness, but if we all work together we can become a tsunami of helpfulness!"
For more information about the school’s conservation achievements and participation in the Green Schools Program, contact:
Meg Handy, librarian
Dan Schlotfeldt, principal