The Bridgeway Elementary School K-Kids Green Team won first place in the elementary school division of the 2022-2023 Green Schools Quest challenge. There were 50 schools participating this year and the theme was climate change action. A cash award of $600 and a trophy was presented to club sponsors Jeanne Fernandez (reading specialist), Cheryl Sprengel (secretary) and Mary Kay Campbell (Pattonville board of education member) last week during a club meeting in recognition of their work for creating a healthier, greener environment for their school.
K-Kids is a year-long student service club that fourth and fifth graders commit to being a part of and is modeled and developed by Kiwanis International. Bridgeway has sponsored K-Kids Club for many years, but this year they added a Green Team component to it. The 32 club members continued to implement many service-oriented projects as in the past, but this year all of the projects included a sustainability focus, especially ways in which they can reduce waste in order to reduce climate change.
“I'm really proud of them all for sticking with it and working hard all year on the projects," Fernandez said.
Through videos, read alouds, discussion of current events and ultimately a whole school waste audit guided by education coordinator from EarthWays Center of Missouri Botanical Garden Maggie McCoy, students came up with three areas they wanted to focus on within the realm of reducing waste.
- Recycling: focusing on items found in school and then connecting to home and beyond
- Composting: involving the whole community and connecting to our lives
- Reusing: making sure we reuse materials for every project, but also making it a focus of two specific projects
This year Bridgeway started working on efforts to become a Missouri Green School and earned the Sprout Level.
“K-Kids Green Team wanted to continue working on Green School initiatives and took part in the Green School Quest challenge to help raise awareness about climate change and things we can all do in our daily lives to help reduce greenhouse gases, a primary culprit of climate change,” Fernandez wrote in an email. “Throughout the school year, K-Kids Green Team focused on reducing waste in our school and community by showing ways that we can reuse, recycle and compost our waste. K-Kids students realized that when we help the Earth, we also are helping people.”
The projects K-Kids students worked on helped build interconnectedness and global citizenship in the school and community.
They organized a pumpkin smashing event at Bridgeway and invited the community to donate their carved pumpkins after Halloween. They smashed the pumpkins and turned them into compost material for the school’s fruit and vegetable garden beds and donated whole unused pumpkins to area farm animals.
"Another project K-Kids Green Team organized this year was a used winter clothing drive to benefit Loaves and Fishes, a shelter within the school’s own community. Club members created a flyer and indicated the importance of reusing clothing instead of throwing it away. Many Bridgeway students and staff donated used clothing, helping reduce textile waste, and also helping people in need within the community. "
Next year, Bridgeway will continue to build on our efforts from this year with more activities aimed at sustainability and green school initiatives and will start a whole school composting project with STL Organics.
On May 9 after the award presentation, club members conducted their end-of-the-year waste audit with McCoy.
“All students in the school were asked to throw away all their food in one bin and trash and recycling in others during lunch,” Fernandez said. “At the end of the day, K-Kids students sorted through the different types of waste and compared it to the beginning of the year.”
They saw the different amounts of waste being produced by the school and that helped them begin their work with recycling. Fernandez said they wondered if there might be items a student could reuse like plastic bottles, Ziploc bags and utensils instead of throwing it away or recycling.
Photo gallery: https://pattonvillesd.smugmug.com/2022-2023/BW-K-Kids/