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September 2018 Featured School

It's a busy time of year as we review applications, interview new schools, and ensure our returning schools are off to a strong start. Thankfully, so many of our schools have amazing teachers and students that make success second-nature. Our first school visit of the year filled us with encouragement and excitement, refreshing our love for what we do. Fill your heart with smiles, read on.

Westgate Elementary

(Thornton, CO)

Westgate Elementary has a passionate Green Team, made up of 15 students. The GUOS team had an inspiring visit and interview with three of these students, who were bursting with enthusiasm as they told us how much they love being on the Green Team.

One of the first things these student mentioned is that a big part of why they enjoy being on the Green Team is because they get to see the effects of their hard work (and work they like to do on top of that!).

These three students believe that being on the green team makes them an approachable member of their school. Students respect the efforts of the Green Team because it is fueled by their dreams. One of the Green Team members expressed how being on the green team helps them find a place in the school, as they had previously felt socially awkward. Having the green team at their school helps them get a foot in the door. Watch the footage below to hear it in their own words.

Westgate is beginning their second year in our program and students there have focused on several initiatives, including food waste and recycling. One successful tactic surrounding the recycling efforts has been a schoolwide "What's your why?" poster contest. Students are welcomed to create a poster explaining why they care, and these posters are swapped out every month around the school, making sure that each student's poster has a moment in the spotlight.

A contrast poster: A Green World - how it could be; and a world where we change nothing.

Not only has the Green Team seen amazing changes at their school, but they have seen amazing changes at home. When asked the students said, "definitely changed how they recycle at home" and how their parents have been supportive, purchasing items needed for zero waste lunches.

Focusing on food waste, the students have had a hand in all aspects of what is going on at their school. Westgate decided as part of their project that they would launch "Waste free Wednesday": If you brought a zero waste lunch, you could sign up (or sign a friend up) for a free reusable water bottle, or if they already had a water bottle, a free cookie! Green Team students helped run this project and began to earn credibility from their peers as "zero waste experts". All food waste is going to the chickens, they empty the recycling bins every other week, and the zero waste party packs are "color coordinated and pretty". On top of this, two classes of students have volunteered to take the compost out on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Moving forward, the Green Team has set their sights on tackling paper waste and the remaining waste they see in the landfill stream: juice boxes, cheese stick wrappers, and plastic baggies. In order to tackle paper towel use, they are building a Shake It Off parody, reminding students if they shake their hands 20 times before using a paper towel, they will only need one towel (we'll be sure to share)!

They also talked about ways to bring more people in, like having task teams, or organizing by grade level. For example, these star students have noticed that the 7th graders are really motivated by being a good role model for the younger students. We are so excited to see where this team is going! Check back for updates later in the year!

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