At Long Beach schools’ first Green Summit, students step up for sustainability – Daily News

on Nov17
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By Desiree Rew, contributing writer

“Think Green.”

That was the mission for teachers, custodial staff, students and parents who gathered at Hughes Middle School on Saturday, Nov. 16 for Long Beach Unified School District’s inaugural Green Summit — an event geared toward increasing sustainability efforts districtwide.

The event came together in the months after a group of green-minded students attended the LBUSD board meeting on March 27, and urged the board’s members to create a sustainability plan for Long Beach schools.

The board worked with faculty and students to set that goal in motion — and Saturday’s event was a lively, informative and very hands-on step on that path, organizers and participants said.

“I am excited to see the district take such a big step to promote sustainability,” said Lindsay Smith, special education teacher at Nelson Academy who has run an afterschool garden club for eight years. “I am here to connect with other schools and find out what they are doing.”

Nonprofit organizations were on hand with giveaways, resources and information, all intended to assist in implementing green initiatives in the classroom, community or home.

Participants were also taken through “kid-powered” learning. Youth instructors served as co-facilitators of the event, giving speeches, demonstrating green-leaning practices and generally leading the way.

“We recognize that kids are the conduits of education and change in households,” said Erin Rowland, waste diversion and recycling officer of the Long Beach Public Works Environment Services Bureau. “When we get kids engaged families have the power to change.”

Terin Greer, Isabella Medina and Angelina Te, all sixth-graders at Hughes Middle School, led exercises to help spread the word about recycling.

Among their practical lessons: Demonstrating how to send an opened Amazon box back to be recycled. The students were stunned that many people didn’t know they could do that.

“My kids have to inherit this planet and I want to teach them to be good stewards of it,” said Marci Melnik, whose twin seventh-graders attend Hughes Middle School.

Rogers Middle School Green Team student leaders Anika Kerekes, Ruby Leyva, and Harper Hogan said what they are advocating at school is now a part of their daily lives too.

“We use more reusable containers in my lunch” said Hogan.

“My family stopped using plastic water bottles” explained Levya.

“One trillion plastics every day are used. If every person cuts down just one piece, we will make things better,” said Kerekes. “We want people to be more aware.”

The summit ended with information on building school Green Teams — and the raffling off of five $100 gift certificates by LBUSD Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser for use by those teams.

Pamela Weinstein, English and Green Team teacher at Rogers Middle School, shared the last message of the day as participants filed out of the auditorium: “Long Beach is going green, people!”



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