Students looked somewhat bored when they heard that they will learn about water and one student piped up smartly :”I know, I know it’s H2O, has a Ph of 7 and can exist in liquid, solid and gaseous state”
With a smile, I asked that student where her water comes from and after a fraction of hesitation came a much more subdued “out of the faucet”…… phrased more like a question than a statement. And she was suddenly wide awake and much more interested.
New Rochelle School District understands that environmental literacy cannot stop at the lunchroom recycling but should be carried throughout the curriculum to have students internalize that their every day actions have a big impact on the environment. Albert Leonard Middle School has invited Anna Giordano into the classroom and students are learning as a curriculum add-on about the environmental foot print of something as mundane as turning on the faucet.
Walking students through where their drinking water comes from, what steps it has to go through before it arrives conveniently at their kitchen faucet was quite eye opening for them.
A collective gasp was heard upon being asked what they think happens when they flush.
Students took a second to process the word “Bio Solids” but quickly chuckled. Seeing pictures of the New Rochelle Waste Water Treatment plant put into prospective the monumental task it is to keep society going.
We covered the steps in the Waste Water Treatment plant and how communities have implemented waste water to drinking water programs. Students shuddered by the thought of former toilet water making its way back into the faucet, but realized at some point that reality requires this and it is ultimately cheaper than ocean water desalination.
And learning about the marketing hoax of bottled water was the true eye-opener for students. Can you imagine 7th graders coming up to express thanks for teaching them about water? Well, it was heartwarming and truly special!
It was blistering cold, but that did not stop a group of very motivated New Rochelle Middle school students from pitching in at New Rochelle’s Five Island Park.
As part of the Junior Honor Society service hour requirements these upstanding kids donned gloves and started picking up trash. A real treasure trove, one might add. Tires, a tricycle, endless bottles and Styrofoam cups were bagged.
Sonia Morris and Stella Giordano, both 8th graders, decided to do it the hard way and chose the breakers as their spot to clean up. Climbing the boulders and reaching into crevices to dislodge the bottle was great fun and one nearly forgot about the ears that froze off in the wind chill.
It was a humbling experience to see just the amount of garbage within the rocks, and the yards and yards of discarded fishing line, entangled around things.
2 hrs later, 4 filled bags of trash and a donut in one hand, both recalled that it was hard work but also very rewarding, and they both felt good about giving up their weekend morning to make a difference.
Last night about 300 of New Rochelle’s parents had a chance to stroll in the festively decorated lunchroom of Albert Leonard Middle School to view lots of silent auction item as well as tasting delicious fare from fabulous New Rochelle restaurants.
The annual ALMS PTSA fundraiser “Taste of New Rochelle” was a relaxing place to meet and greet parents we only get to see on our (hurried) way to drop off or pick up our kids.
Last night marked also the first time that this event was source separated to mirror what the students are doing in the lunchroom.
Parents had the opportunity to sort their waste into “Food & Paper” and “Commingled Recycling” and they all did it with gusto and flawlessly. Anna Giordano, Executive Director of We Future Cycle, the not-for-profit organisation that was hired to bring extensive sustainability programs to the district was there to help at the station and to share the fabulous results achieved in all the schools since the inception of the program. ALMS has reduced its lunchroom waste by a whopping 95%, its building waste by a good 50% and its kitchen waste by 65%. All in all, that is about 450 lbs of garbage NOT generated every day, and that just from one of the 9 participating New Rochelle schools.
Thanks to the program, New Rochelle School District was able to revamp its waste management system and save considerable funds. Carl Thurnau, the Director of Facilities for the district has just quantified it at the ongoing budget meetings with an annual savings of $130,000.
And of course, Westchester County is benefiting from the increase of recyclables delivered to the Material Recovery Facility near Stew Leonards. Recyclables are commodities that are sold back to industry for considerable prices.
ALMS Taste of New Rochelle generated 3 large bags of recyclables, one bag of food waste for composting, and only about 2 lbs of trash, mainly Styrofoam products.
Meet Ben and Nate. These engaged 6th graders made an appointment with the New Rochelle Albert Leonard Middle School Principal John Barnes to discuss the need for additional changes in the lunchroom. Both students fully support the We Future Cycle recycling program but want to see it go even further.
Armed with plastic wrapped apples, plastic wrapped cookies, Styrofoam FroYo cups and single serve ketchup pouches they made their case. Reading from their research notes they presented Mr Barnes with facts about plastic in the environment as well as the now documented health risks associated with consuming food that touched the polystyrene.
Mr Barnes invited the Executive Director Anna Giordano to the meeting to give the students the opportunity to hear what is already in the works in regards to these materials. Ms Giordano was delighted to meet these engaged students and shared that exactly these materials are on her list to be replaced with more environmental solutions.
Nate and Ben were invited to share their concerns in writing with the administration and they are now working on a letter to formally request the removal and replacement of these packaging items.
Mr Barnes was exceedingly proud of his students and rightly so!.