Six schools recognized for environmental work

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Six Clark County schools will be recognized next week by Washington Green Schools, a statewide program encouraging student leadership and promoting environmental stewardship. More than 280 public and private schools statewide participate in the program, including 61 Clark County schools.

Green Teams in participating schools evaluate the school's operations and take steps to improve: energy, healthy school buildings, transportation, waste and recycling, water, and school grounds and gardens. Green Teams can work to achieve higher levels of certification.

The six schools will be honored in ceremonies at each school. Clark County Environmental Services will participate in each presentation, underscoring the county's role working with schools and students to hone environmental practices. Clark County is a founding partner and continuing financial supporter of Washington Green Schools.

Sacajawea Elementary: After learning that the school's bioswale was barely passing inspection, the Green Team worked with the Vancouver Public Schools' landscape and maintenance staff to plant native, drought-tolerant vegetation. The team spearheaded removing nonnative plants to reduce watering and emphasized water-saving hand-washing techniques. The result: the school reduced water use by 2.2 gallons per student per month.

Gaiser Middle: The Green Team improved water efficiency and indoor air quality. Students worked with administration and facilities to fix faucet censors, clean air vents and provide an announcement about integrated pest management.

Grass Valley Elementary: The Green Team organized parties to weed invasive species and planned a composting center for leaves, other vegetation and kitchen scraps.

Peter S. Ogden Elementary: The Green Team designed a native plant garden, used rain barrels to capture precipitation for irrigation and created a summer maintenance schedule to ensure the gardens receive care in the summer. Garden produce was used to make salsa and pesto in the school's cafeteria. The team created a paper recycling station, developed a disposal program for batteries, electronics and printer cartridges and created a compost station to turn food waste into nutrient-rich soil. In staff rooms, the team also set up coffee grounds compost bins.

Chinook Elementary: After learning that a grass field was eroding due to runoff, the Green Team implemented a reseeding program. They also produced a water conservation video and worked with the school to fix leaky appliances.

Washington School for the Deaf: The school's Green Team analyzed the waste stream in classrooms and residential cottages and acted to reduce waste. The team also increased the number of recycling containers and produced three informational videos that included American Sign Language.