MILLTOWN, NJ - The sun was shining with blue skies all around for the weekly Wednesday meeting of the Parkview School's Green Club on May 23. The pre-kindergarten through third grade school houses Milltown's youngest students. Once a week after the school day is over, the club's members meet in the library for the Green Club.
The environmentally conscious club is run by Parkview School librarian and technology teacher Barbara Wright and preschool teacher Mary Sansone. Their hour-long meeting starts off with a quick snack before the members and their teachers get down to some green business.
"We are working towards the New Jersey Eco-School's Green Flag award, which we hope to earn by the end of this school year," Wright said. "We have previously achieved the Bronze Award for our efforts in reducing waste and the Silver Award for reducing our use of water. We have kept up our efforts on those fronts and are now trying to reduce our use of electricity as well. We also have a thriving school garden, and our students love planting, weeding, raking and harvesting our spring crops."
Sansone explained the club also has a towel initiative in the works with the goal of reducing the number of paper towels used during the school day. They've enlisted the help of the Milltown Senior Center in their endeavor. The seniors are creating towel rings for cloth towels. Cloth towels would be used for spills and general cleaning, not for hand-washing.
After their snacks, the students discussed ways to reduce the amount of electricity consumed at Parkview on a daily basis. Some suggestions included closing apps before charging smart phones since it uses less power, turning off half of the lights in the classroom during their five minutes of free time and powering down computers at the end of the school day. One student brought up using natural light whenever possible which led another to suggest to talking to Parkview School Principal Eric Siegel about the possibility of installing solar panels on the school's roof.
When the green discussion concluded, the students and their teachers headed outside to get to work in the school's garden. The garden grows herbs like cilantro along with strawberries and lettuce, radishes, carrots, onions and tomatoes. Students work together to weed, water, plant and compost. When it's time to harvest, Green Club members get to reap what they sow. Students help put together a salad made from the veggies harvested, tasting the foods they worked to grow. On occasion, an over abundance of a certain crop get to be taken home by the participants.
"Since 2014, Parkway Elementary School has been participating in Eco-Schools USA in New Jersey through NJ Audubon," explained Allison Mulch, Project Director for the NJ Audubon. "This 'green' recognition program integrated sustainability practices within their existing curriculum. Aligned with NJ’s Student Learning Standards for Science and NGSS, several environmental pathways were completed to deepen the curriculum, provide STEAM-based educational opportunities and engage their students in authentic learning experiences positively impacting their environment."
Program began in 1994 and has grown to include schools in 59 countries around the globe.
Parkview's Green Club sports a lengthy list of participants with each group meeting on alternating Wednesdays. Milltown's Joyce Kilmer School also has a Green Club.
The Green Club members in attendance on May 23 were William Pizar, Nathan Oryniak, Jack Fucsko, Maliya Lazar, Lucas Lehmkuhl, Jack Sickles, Anthony Cacace, Isabella Pizar, Lily Schiavino, Tyrus Lazar, Connor Buckley, Garrett Kneller, Patrick Reagan, Aiden Lawrence, Dominic Rodriguez, Olivia Taglietta, Archie Visokay, Caitlyn Young, Drew Fontana, Jack Bolan, Jason Orth, Jonathan Regan, Elizabeth Seamon, Brayden Stark, Lisa Lehmkuhl, Shannon Murray and Veronica Greenburg.