Where We Learn Matters

By Susan Lanigan

On Sept. 27, 2014, the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council will sponsor the 3rd annual Green Apple Day of Service. This global event will bring together thousands of students, teachers, parents, administrators, and community members for education, community events, and service projects to contribute to the goal that all schools have clean and healthy air to breathe, conserve energy and resources and inspire their students to create a fulfilling sustainable future.

Projects will be as varied as the schools and include everything from a “coffee chat” to discussing ways to make the school more environmentally sustainable, to creating a campus rain or vegetable garden, to giving educational presentations and tours, but all will stress the importance of a safe, healthy, and environmentally friendly learning environment. After all, it’s not just WHAT we learn, but also WHERE we learn that matters.

Crossroads College Preparatory School participated in the Green Apple Day of Service in 2012 and 2013. This small, land-locked urban school on DeBaliviere Avenue in the Central West End strives to create a “green” learning environment. They achieved LEED Platinum certification in 2010 for their school addition and renovation project. In 2012, they were named a Green Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.
Crossroads participated in the first Green Apple Day of Service in 2012 by creating a second native plant pollinator garden with the help of Pizzo Associates. A team of 70 students, parents, faculty, administrators and friends of Crossroads joined together to plant the garden in record time.

In 2013, the architectural firm HOK worked with Crossroads administration, teachers and students to develop and conduct interactive tours of their LEED certified building and native plant rain garden that focused on the health and educational benefits of a green school and demonstrated how the building and garden are incorporated into the curriculum. Over 100 visitors learned all aspects of creating a healthy, sustainable learning environment that includes natural day lighting, the use “green” cleaning products, indoor air quality, solar power, recycling, and acoustics.

Crossroads was one of nearly 60 schools in the St. Louis region to participate last year. Their efforts combined with those of other schools throughout the world to make quite an impact. According to the Center for Green Schools, the 2,091 communities that hosted projects in 2013 included schools in 41 countries and all 50 states in the U.S.; they engaged 203,677 project volunteers, and impacted 2,888,022 students.

The 2014, Green Apple Day of Service will take place on Saturday, Sept. 27. Many local schools will be planning events on this date, or within a two-week window of this date, and would welcome your participation. To find an event near you, or to register an event of your own, visit www.mygreenapple.org.