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Green Award to Belmont School District

Green School CertificateBelmont School District recently received the 2015 Secretary’s Awards for Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education.  This is the 21 Annual award from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and the second year for Belmont to be recognized for efforts towards being green (last year Wellington received recognition).

The award placed the entire Belmont School District on the state’s Honor Roll for Green Initiatives.  Among these are recycling in the lunchrooms and classrooms, participating in the Green Cup Challenge (an energy reducing initiative from Green Alliance), a Green Committee formed in each school, and walking to school through the Safe Routes to school program.

Mary Beth Calnan, Recycling Coordinator for the Town of Belmont, went to the State House May 11 to accept a certificate on behalf of the district.  She has been at the forefront of helping the town and schools follow the four R’s:  refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle.  She submitted the district for this recognition, “The Belmont School District was the only district recognized for this award,” she says.  “The other awards went to classrooms and individual teachers but Belmont as a whole was recognized for promoting environmental and healthy changes.”

Being green doesn’t happen alone.  Congratulations to the faculty, staff, students, and town departments for working collaboratively to carry out these initiatives.  For more information on ways to recycle and reduce, please look at the town website.

Here is more information about the district’s green initiatives 
submitted by Calnan for the award.

The Belmont School District, comprised of 4378 students, has progressed from recycling only paper in classrooms to recycling in the lunchrooms, filling a 10 cy cardboard container weekly, presenting recycling and energy assemblies, participating in the Green Cup Challenge, winning green awards and most of all changing the culture in the schools by way of the PTA/PTO’s.

I am extremely proud of this district’s effort of following the four R’s: refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle to become more sustainable in the last two years. This growth was a combined effort of students, parents and staff from school and town departments working collaboratively to carry out these green initiatives.  This year MassRecycle recognized Belmont as one of three finalists in the school division:

The program, driven by the PTA/PTO’s and the recycling coordinator, reaches all students and staff in the district’s school buildings. Each school has formed its own Green Committee that promotes environmental and healthy initiatives that fall under their PTA/PTO’s. Examples of these initiatives are:

Paper and plastic recycling - all classrooms

Lunchroom recycling -milk cartons and other liquid and food containers

Trex Bag Contest – to help keep plastic bags from curbside recycling

Participating in MA DEP Green Team Program – All four elementary and middle school are members

Energy conservation – Green Cup Challenge

Healthy lifestyle – Safe Routes to School program at all elementary and middle schools, school gardens, Healthy and Wellness Committee formed

It soon became apparent that it would be beneficial if these green committees from the different schools met and shared their successes and hurdles. One parent stepped up and became the chair of this newly formed group, Belmont PTA/PTO Green Alliance. This committee meets once a month and has representatives from the four elementary, middle and high schools. At every other monthly meeting they meet with the School Superintendent which is helpful in accomplishing green initiatives implemented system-wide, giving parity among the schools. Moreover, this group asked the recycling coordinator to submit a monthly blurb to each school’s newsletter highlighting recycling, energy conservation and healthy lifestyles that have occurred in the schools during the month. It is hoped that after receiving the monthly newsletter parents supported by their children will replicate these green initiatives at home. Some schools have even managed to establish a line item in their PTA/PTO budget, to insure that the green committee will continue and offer environmental programs after parents ‘graduate’.

This past winter, energy conservation was emphasized. The Belmont PTA/PTO Green Alliance spearheaded the Green Cup Challenge in the four elementary schools, building on the success of Wellington Elementary School’s second place win during last year’s challenge. This was a collaborative effort of energy conservation between this group, the Town Facilities Department and Belmont Light, a municipal light plant, to kick-off Belmont’s recent Green Communities designation. The Town Facilities Department graciously paid the entrance fee to the contest for the schools and Belmont Light donated a reusable bag/backpack to each classroom filled with:

  • Rules of contest
  • CFL
  • Door knocker checklist to ensure all classroom electronics were unplugged or powered down
  • Online resources and class lessons for the teacher and students
  • Glossary of terms – energy, electricity, vampire energy, etc. 

The elementary schools were successful in lowering their electricity and hope to include the middle and high school next year:

The Belmont School District working with Town departments and the community are establishing a culture in the schools where environmental and healthy initiatives will become everyday habits for its staff, students and their families. To accomplish this goal the district has built on the success of each individual school’s successes and duplicated it to expand to the whole district.