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Sashabaw Middle School earns Green status



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Clarkston students and staff worked together to earn Emerald and Evergreen status. Photo by Wendi Reardon (click for larger version)
May 05, 2010 - Everyone was green with excitement as eight Clarkston schools were honored for achieving Michigan Green School status, April 28.

Sashabaw Middle School celebrated not only achieving Evergreen status - the top honor - but also voted as the top Green School of 170 schools participating this year.

"Aside from the basics of recycling, we are continually finding ways to incorporate Going Green Initiatives into our Academic Service Learning Projects," explained Rodney Pierson, science and ASL teacher.

The projects focus on the environment and finding ways to reduce and reuse waste items.

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Another way Sashabaw Middle School focuses on the environment is teaching students about the environment in the science classes and ASL Ecology classes.

A few things students do in the classes are raise salmon, build bat houses in partnership of the Bat Conservation out of Cranbrook Science Institute and collected electronic items for the E-Waste event they hosted during last fall.

"Each trimester is a different class and they choose a different project," said Pierson.

"They also keep track of how many ink cartridges and cell phones coolected."

Pierson noted the response from the students has been overwhelming and they aren't the only ones lending a hand in helping the environment - staff members and parents played a big part.

"The students are the future and the positive focus on becoming an Evergreen school gives them pride and the way to raise it to the next level."

The students will celebrate their hard work with a cook out at the end of the school year - using solar cookers.

Also being recognized for Evergreen status were Andersonville Elementary, Bailey Lake Elementary, Independence Elementary and North Sashabaw Elementary.

The schools had to do 20 activities to reach Evergreen status. A few of the activities include recycling paper, reusing magazines and newspaper for classroom projects.

Bailey Lake adopted an endangered species from the Detroit Zoo and supports a self-sufficient natural Michigan garden project consisting of native plants.

Last year was the first time Independence Elementary participated in the Michigan Green Schools and made it to the Emerald level.

The students and staff will celebrate being Green during their Festival Day on Friday - where students will participate in green activities as well as attend assemblies.

"We have also been working to educate our students by teaching and presenting green information at school meetings and during morning announcements," said Laura Stevenson.

The students have focused on recycling papers and water bottles. They also turn off light switches to reduce electricity and keep entry doors closed to save energy.

Honored for their Emerald status and completing up to 15 activities are Clarkston Elementary, Pine Knob Elementary and Springfield Plains Elementary.

Clarkston Elementary continues their recycling efforts and everyone took to the grounds on Earth Day for a school wide clean up.

Springfield Plains has adopted two endangered river dolphins and has the Lewis E. Wint Nature Center present an environmental program each spring. Students and staff members make the most of paper - using both sides before putting it into the recycle bin.

"The student council is in the middle of purchasing containers for each individual classroom at the school," said Matthew Gifford, fourth grade teacher. " It will hold plastic and cardboard and cut down on class disruption."

The school already recycles in the cafeteria and the trash has reduced by 70 percent.

Pine Knob Elementary looked at what they were already doing and how they could expand their efforts.

Students noticed a few other schools in the district like Springfield Plains Elementary and Sashabaw Middle School were collecting and recycling Capri Sun pouches. They researched it and decided to try it, too.

"The students can see how much they can make a difference," said Bob Brazier, third grade teacher. "It has been a team effort."

Joining Sashabaw Middle School for top honors were Harlan Elementary in Birmingham Public Schools and Clear Lake Elementary in Oxford Community Schools.

Last year 98 schools in Oakland County participated, this year 170 participated and were recognized for their efforts.

"What it has done for me is given me faith, hope and great optimism we are going to be fine," said Oakland Schools Superintendent Dr. Vickie L. Markavitch. "We are going to be better than we have been before. We know we have to do things differently then we have done before."

For more on Green Schools and 20 activities, visit www.MichiganGreenSchools.org.

"Five years ago I didn't recycle anything," Brazier admitted. "Now the idea of not recycling is crazy to me."

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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