Being green goes deeper than the schools’ colors.
By KRYSTAL NURSE
From a green back-to-school night, to spirit week and to having Meatless Mondays, the Clearview Regional School District bleeds green in both its school colors and in daily operations. Now, it has obtained bragging rights with the bronze certification from Sustainable Jersey in the middle school, high school and the district as a whole.
Clearview Regional was given the distinction by the nonprofit organization in September and was celebrated at the New Jersey School Boards Association meeting in Atlantic City on Oct. 23.
“At that meeting, we were recognized at all three levels,” said Lisa Marandola, high school guidance counselor and Green Team leader. “The business administrator (Esther Pennell) is in possession of those plaques that we received, and that at the next school board meeting (Nov. 29) they’ll be recognized.”
To get certified by the nonprofit, the district had to meet a set of requirements for “points” toward each level. It is unknown how many points the district and its schools received, but they hold a bronze level status.
“Our points were received in everything from recyclable copy paper, to our cleaning supplies custodians use, to our environmental club who did a waste audit, and then the science club at the middle school doing various outreach projects and field trips to learn about sustainability,” said Marandola.
During the Sept. 13 back-to-school night, the high school urged everyone to go green by encouraging parents to carpool and use the PowerSchool app, a kindergarten through 12th-grade education technology platform, to follow their child’s schedule. Teachers were asked to use dry-erase or chalkboards for signage, and students were located at trash cans to toss out garbage or to filter out recyclable items.
On most Mondays, the high school cafeteria serves meatless meals to students and the students help promote it. During last year’s spirit week, teachers and staff were encouraged to keep the lights off in classrooms and offices, students wore vintage or sustainable clothing and were encouraged to carpool to and from school.
“My role was the green team leader, and I made sure we were implementing a lot of these things, advertising it in both schools, promoting recycling in both schools,” said Marandola. “Prior to this, we didn’t have a great track record with recycling.”
Marandola added the district was excited to be recycling more, and it took a few emails showing how they could implement environmentally conscious initiatives in either their lessons or daily activities.
At the middle school, nurse Lisa Tiedeken helped promote staff wellness and organized physical activity and healthy behaviors in the staff. Physical education teacher Scott Land reached out to students with Tiedeken’s mission and helped create a CrossFit-style gym for the district.
As a whole, the district was able to introduce an anti-idling policy that applies to everyone who drives onto the Clearview Regional campus.
Marandola added that due to the district’s location in Harrison Township and proximity to Mantua Township, they couldn’t ask for students to walk or bike to school out of safety. Going green is also an expensive task. The middle school is the only building on the campus to have solar panels, which can cost thousands of dollars.
Despite that, she said she can see the district moving forward with more initiatives to go green, such as adding more environmental courses in both schools and utilizing Google Classroom, a free service for schools to easily allow teachers and students to collaborate with one another.
“We have one for each class, as counselors, and it’s a way we can help get information to each graduating class,” said Marandola. “I know that there’s a teacher who uses his Google Classroom to manage his letters of recommendation, which is just another way of eliminating something that used to be a ton of paper.”
In addition to the student-run garden, which Marandola wishes to see grow in numbers, she added students are often seen lining up at refillable water stations, and teachers promote healthy living in their classroom lessons and discuss how others may live in food deserts or not have access to clean drinking water.
“I was proud when everyone bought into the paperless events,” said Marandola. “It was rewarding that people were truly changing their behaviors with recycling.”