Pleasant Hill Elementary is a Green Step School. PHES has several ongoing school-wide projects taking place in each of three categories: Conserve, Protect, and Restore. For each of the activities described below, it is clear that our students are at the very center of all of the learning and doing. Also, there are many opportunities for students to teach others. For example, the students use the information about recycling to measure and graph the quantities collected and to make presentations in class about their findings. They also teach our school community on a grand scale.
1. Recycle: Teachers and students collect recyclable paper, aluminum, and plastics in bins in their classrooms. Once these bins are full, students dump the paper into central containers placed around the school. Our recycling company then picks it up.
In addition, students tap and stack their Styrofoam trays in the cafeteria. Teacher volunteers bring them to a Publix grocery store every afternoon, where they are recycled.
2. Reuse: - Making Plarn: Students make plastic yarn out of donated grocery bags. We deliver balls of plastic yarn (plarn) to the Columbia Art Center for them to make bedrolls out of plastic bags for homeless people.
3. Reuse: Our school participates in the “Souls for Soles” project all-year round. We collect new and used shoes of all types – everything from tiny baby shoes to very large men’s boots! And everything in-between. We collect them in a large, blue box in our Commons Area. We pack them up and send them off to Souls for Soles. It is a non-profit program headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. They partner with women’s shelters, veterans’ organizations, children’s programs and schools to get donated shoes and clothing to those in need around the world.
1. Plants: We know that plants can help to protect our air. Our Green Team has directed the students in placing a ZZ plant in each classroom and office space. Students were directly involved in the propagating of a few ZZ plants into many, many more. Students also take care of the plants in their classrooms and keep them watered. We also have many other plants around the school that the children take care of.
2. Rain Barrel: Rain water is collected in a rain barrel which is placed in a central location, right next to our school gardens. Water from this rain barrel is used to water our school gardens.
1. Outdoor composting: Using composted material helps to enrich and restore the earth’s soil. Our Green Team purchased a large composting barrel a few years ago, and it is placed in a central area outside. Teachers regularly drop off grass clippings there. Students place apple cores and banana peels into the composter. Then students make sure that the barrel is consistently rotated. The composted material is ideal for enhancing the soil used by students in our school’s garden beds.
2. Indoor Vermicomposting: A teacher volunteer maintains a Styrofoam cooler in her classroom with thin strips of moistened newspaper and occasional fruit pieces. A small batch of vermi busily transforms these materials into soil. The children observe and monitor the growth of the soil.
3. School Garden: Students learn about gardening in our raised garden beds in the back of the school and front of the school. They planted many edible plants in the early fall. The students water and care for the plants, and ultimately harvest the vegetables.
Garden bed in the front of our school: