NC Green School of Excellence, 2016-present.
Cove Creek School’s guiding principles emphasize “helping each child be a responsible citizen of the world and a role model in environmental stewardship”.
The Green Team has grown to twenty one members, including parents, staff and members of the community who have been brainstorming and supporting environmental initiatives at Cove Creek. Most members of the Green Team are also active leaders in the Cove Creek Community Group (the school’s non-traditional answer to a PTO) and environmental goals are fully integrated into the mission of this broader group. From small steps like converting school events to zero waste, to more involved collaborative efforts such as writing proposals for local and national sustainability education grants, both groups work as one to help inspire environmental stewardship not just in the students at the school, but also among the wider Cove Creek community.
The Vilas community has been a key part of the success of the school’s environmental movement, and getting family members involved in projects has really helped spread the excitement about becoming a Green School. There have been smaller community events like creek cleanups and collaborative planting as well as the much larger, all day “Blooms and Buzz Day”. The school communicates news about green efforts to the community via the school’s website, Facebook, Twitter and several blogs, as well as via the local newspaper. Partnerships with local businesses and non-profit organizations have also helped with funding and spreading the word about the school’s environmental mission.
The formation of the afterschool program “EcoRaiders”, a student club with an environmental science focus, has been the other big driving force behind the school’s conservation movement. The club, with 42 members meets weekly for an hour and a half and has been critical in securing the grants for the expanded school garden, the beehive, Blooms and Buzz Day and things like new recycling centers for the school.
Sustainability efforts at the school include a paper recycling program which is ran by middle school students, as well as recycling of bottles, cans and batteries (in collaboration with a local boyscout troop). The school also has a worm bin and a three stage compost station and recovers foodwaste from kitchen prep to make compost for the garden. Other sustainability initiatives the school has undertaken are light audits, installing a water bottle filling station, buying new sinks to ensure water conservation and making school events zero waste.