Already accomplished by 34 Detroit Public Schools and counting, the Go Green Challenge implements "green" tactics and techniques for kindergarten through 12th grade students. Environment/planet restoring, energy saving, and sustainability are some of the main focuses of the program.
“The DPS Go Green Challenge (GGC) was launched in fall 2013 as a voluntary opportunity for schools to reduce their energy costs and share in the savings through engaging students, faculty and staff in best practice energy management,” stated the Detroit Public Schools Office of Energy and Sustainability Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Report.
The Annual Report concluded that Development and implementation of the inaugural DPS Go Green Challenge with 34 schools resulted in $395,789 in energy savings.
One school that takes part in the Go Green Challenge, Davison Elementary-Middle School, works hard to keep students involved and recycling regularly.
Go Green Challenge student experts at Davison don the title “Green Dragons” and there are 76 Green Dragons who work to save.
The job of Green Dragons is to monitor energy use in the classroom. This includes shutting down computers, microwaves, fans, lights and other powered appliances when the day is done.
“At the beginning at the challenge, we also had to do general inventory to find all incandescent light bulbs. We replaced them with CFL,” said Thomas Barnes, sustainability coordinator and teacher.
Three basic goals of the Go Green Challenge are student achievement, generating positive feelings in the community and driving cost savings.
“We don’t have time for daily announcements so if we can provide small building blocks at schools where people will be excited about it then it will take off,” said Emile Lauzzana, Energy Manager, Detroit Public Schools.
The kick off for the new school year’s Go Green Challenge is set for Oct. 9.
A Davison kindergarten class demonstrated their knowledge through hand motions and the phrase “Reduce, reuse, recycle.” The demonstration ended with a “thumbs up” around the room given to the teacher and the student’s peers as a way to thank each other for recycling knowledge.
During the 2013-2014 school year, Lauzzana and DPS hope to expand water conservation and gardening throughout their Go Green Challenge schools.
Lauzzana asked a classroom, “Why would you want to recycle?”
The students raised their hands to answer, “To save energy, to save money, to help clean the community and to save the planet for the future.”
Elimination of school wide waste has increased since the challenge became official.
“Before the challenge I would have to go around the school with my eyes closed because of all the waste. I couldn’t recycle it all so I would just recycle what I touch. Now I have the kids to help me,” said Maria Jones Foster, garden coordinator.
One classroom’s teacher designated a student from each table to use a bag to separate materials if incorrectly placed in the recycling bin in the classroom. As a reminder, a list of what can be recycled is taped over the bin.
The students answered Emile Lauzzana, Energy Manager, Detroit Public Schools, as he asked, “What can you recycle?,” with, “Paper, bottles, metal cans, plastic, construction paper and cardboard.” They nixed the idea of broken pencils and pizza boxes with cheese on it, though.
Shredding is also a part of the classroom recycling.
“I used to take home boxes of shredded paper in the car and sometimes hand it off to other teachers and we would recycle it. Now that we have recycling in the schools the kids can help and I don’t have shreds of paper in my backseat anymore,” said a Davison teacher.
The recycling bug travels. Some students even bring water bottles from home to recycle at the bins at school.
A student shared her story about how she’s taken recycling ideas home to her family, “I will go into rooms where my brother and sister are and turn off fans and TVs when they leave.”
Green Living Science, a Detroit Environmental Education Program, came to visit Davison and conducted assemblies for each age group. The “Be Green” mascot paid a visit and excited students with new green knowledge. The assemblies covered the recycling process and gave students ideas for implementing recycling.
In 2013 Davison was awarded the title of a Green School. They plan to work up to become an Emerald School after proper steps.