I have not been blessed with the gift of a green thumb. Despite this, I believe deeply in teaching children the importance of protecting our natural treasures and resources. In fact, one of the major reasons I was attracted to High Point is its steadfast commitment to environmental sustainability. That commitment can be seen everywhere in the daily life of the school. It is embedded in High Point’s curriculum. It is woven throughout its operations and waste reduction program. Most importantly, it lives within each of our students.
I did not realize how deep these roots ran until I recently visited the kindergarteners during lunch. For some reason, I was walking around campus with a twice-bitten apple. A kindergartener approached me and asked, “Mr. Stern, do you know where your apple goes when you are done?”
I smiled and shrugged my shoulders. “No, I don’t. Could you please let me know where it goes?”
At that point, several kindergarteners rose from their seats to lead me to my apple’s ultimate destination. Each was eager to lead the way. I followed their lead and walked about 30 or so feet. “Right here! In the composting!” the kindergarteners exclaimed in unison, pointing to the composting container.
I smiled, thanked them, and gave each kindergartener a high five.
This personal experience drove home the big idea of High Point’s “green” campus: To promote environmentally friendly practices that will become ingrained for a lifetime, students must live and breathe them. To be embraced by students and to become a passionate commitment, sustainable practices cannot be merely a unit of study. They must be embedded in the fabric of the school’s daily life.
As I shared in an earlier blog, there is green, and then there is a deeper shade of green. At High Point, on our campus and in our curriculum, there is an unwavering commitment to a deeper shade of green.
What does it mean to be a Waste Less Living School?
High Point is proud to stand tall as a Waste Less Living School under the leadership of Christine Lenches-Hinkel. Being a Waste Less Living school means that High Point and the community work together to ensure that the vast majority of our waste is designated for either composting or recycling, and not for landfills. It means that, every day, students monitor and measure the percentage of our waste earmarked for composting, recycling, and—only where necessary—for landfills. Our 6th graders assume a leadership role in monitoring High Point’s waste disposal. During morning announcements each Monday, we share how successfully we met our target goals the previous week.
Remarkably, 87% of the waste generated by High Point is diverted to recyclables and compostables. That figure today is 5% greater than the target percentage Pasadena is recommending for the city as a whole, by 2020! High Point is way ahead of the curve on our path to be a zero waste school community!
Drought Tolerant Landscaping and Water Usage
High Point has installed drought tolerant landscaping throughout the campus: The landscaping near the kindergarten classrooms and the primary grade playground is now drought tolerant. And we have created a walkway of decomposed granite and drought tolerant landscaping. (The walkway hugs the perimeter of the campus on Kinneloa Avenue from the carpool driveway entrance to the intersection of Kinneloa and Eaton Canyon.) We are exploring additional drought tolerant landscaping options as well, deepening our commitment to environmentally sustainable practices.
All of this demonstrates that, as a community, we take the California drought conditions seriously (the positive impact of El Nino notwithstanding). In addition to saving water for our planet, the school is saving money on its water bill—a win-win scenario! At this point in the school year, water use at High Point is down XX% over the same time last year.
We are on top of our day-to-day stats because our 8th grader “scientists” have been instrumental in analyzing our water usage. Like actual scientists, they analyze the data and track the declining water usage at High Point. They have even evaluated High Point’s monthly water bills and witnessed first-hand the lower costs associated with this reduction.
The High Point Strategic Plan is about our future. It is about ensuring that High Point preserves its mission and core values going forward. In this spirit, our school’s commitment to a deeper shade of green is highlighted in our newly minted Strategic Plan. This Plan reflects all priorities developed collaboratively by the High Point community, including environmentally centered ones. They include:
- Continuing to foster a deep understanding of the importance of environmental sustainability through real-world learning opportunities and opportunities for student leadership.
- Completing a campus Master Plan to clarify facility upgrades and enhancements that enrich the curriculum and support the school’s operational needs in an environmentally sensitive manner.
Earth Day Celebration and Green School Showcase
I would like to cordially invite everyone to High Point’s Earth Day Celebration and Green School Showcase on Friday, April 22nd at 8:30 am. This event represents the culmination of our ongoing commitment to being a leader among independent schools in promoting environmental sustainability. Guests will include prominent federal, state, and local government officials. These authorities will officially recognize High Point’s deep-seated commitment and leadership as a flagship “green” school. They will salute High Point’s leadership in promoting and fostering environmental sustainability. At our Earth Day Celebration and Green School Showcase, our 8th grade students will share their presentations highlighting their real-life water study at High Point. Our student scientists will demonstrate the connection between using composting as fertilizer and reducing water usage.
I sincerely hope that you will join us for this very special occasion. Yes, it takes a village to pursue a deeper shade of green. Happily, High Point’s students and community continue to lead the way and inspire us all to pursue environmental sustainability.