Local private schools making a difference

EarthGen has launched a new certification category for its statewide green school certification program after a successful pilot by five schools, including The Island School on Bainbridge Island.

EarthGen is an educational nonprofit that partners with educators and K-12 schools to facilitate youth-led solutions for a healthy planet. For more than 10 years, EarthGen (formerly Washington Green Schools) has provided a framework for K-12 communities to take action and earn recognition for their commitment to make their school communities healthier and more sustainable. Student-led teams take on long-term projects in: Energy; school buildings; school grounds and gardens; transportation; waste and recycling; water; and actions students take at home. Schools can progress from Bronze through Platinum levels.

Now a new, eighth category, Habitat Restoration, expands its environmental actions into communities.

Dovetailing with the school’s partnership with Friends of the Farms, The Island School undertook a restoration project in the Bainbridge Food Forest. Adopting an area within the former Christmas tree farm, students in all grades helped dig out invasive blackberry roots and plant more than 300 native berry bushes. Blackcap raspberries, elderberries, Evergreen huckleberries, and salmonberries will extend the fruiting season and provide important habitat for birds, butterflies and other native species.

Montessori students

Meanwhile, some students at another BI private school, Montessori Country School, recently got an in-depth look into the workings of the world’s largest international peacekeeping and humanitarian organization.

A Capstone project for the students’ final year at Montessori, their yearlong experience as delegates representing Afghanistan involved extensive classroom study and mid-year working sessions. In addition to learning about cultures, peoples and governments, the students researched topics ranging from literacy and mental health to public health emergencies and response.

Their efforts culminated in a multi-day conference in New York City in March, where they had the opportunity to present their topics, debate global problems, and create solutions using the format of the United Nations.

For teacher Jaclyn Chao, being immersed in MMUN with her students has been rewarding. “For one, students integrate their independent study skills, time management and critical-thinking skills… While at the conference, they are able to see how all their hard work over time pays off in supporting their confident engagement in the working sessions with diverse students from all over the world.”

Cianna Carson, 12, added: “Working together as one is a lot better than working alone. That is how we can promote peace and make a positive impact in our world.”

Ella McLean, also 12, said, “People think only adults can solve problems, but any kid can make a solution.”